Sunflowers and Poetry | Why I Wake Early

Sunflower Goat

Good Morning! I’m dropping in a little earlier than usual because I thought you might like to share your morning tea or coffee with this sunflower-bearing (umm…eating) goat. If it is not morning where you are, you should exit this post and return to it in the morning. Kidding, of course! You can read it now and return to it tomorrow morning, if you choose, because today’s poem by Mary Oliver is about celebrating the early morning and starting our days with happiness and kindness. 

Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver
 
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–
 
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.
 
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

About the Image: My pen friend, Kathi G, sent the delightful postcard above. The goat’s name is Rory. Isn’t he absolutely adorable as he munches on a sunflower with a field more of them behind him? This is the work of Dorian Charles of Tabby Hall Designs. Happy eating, Rory!

					

Sunflowers and Poetry | Game Called Life

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As promised Monday, I’m back with another poem by Javan. The poem below comes from Something to Someone. If your week has been a little challenging like mine, you might also need this nice and easy poem that doesn’t tax the brain or stretch the intellectual muscles.

By Javan

I’m not very good
at this Game called Life
For I’ve not learned to see children crying
without feeling pain
For I’ve not learned to watch animals destroyed
without wondering why
For I’ve not yet met a king or celebrity
that I would bow down to
or a man so insignificant
that I would use for a stepping-stone
For I’ve not learned to be a
“yes man”
to narrow minded bosses
who quote rules without reason
And I’ve not learned to manipulate
the feelings of others
to be used for my own advantages
then cast aside as I see fit
No, I’m not very good
at this Game called Life
And if everything goes well
maybe I never will be


About the Image: My friend Christine B sent this bright sprinkling of sunflowers to cheer me after I told her I was having a very sad day. She used the TouchNote app to send the postcard featuring her artwork.

Sunflowers and Poetry | How We Fit

“Le prince solaire” by A. Kumurdjian

Today has been filled with too much talking, too much paper-shuffling, and not enough silence. Even as I type these few words, I hear the text messages [that I will ignore until morning] coming in. So, for now, a very short poem from Meister Eckhart’s Book of Heart: Meditations for the Restless Soul by Jon M. Sweeney and Mark S. Borrows. May we all find a bit of stillness in this moment. 

How We Fit
Meister Eckhart | Sweeney and Burrows

You made us for Yourself.
and we fit not as one part

to another but rather as
emptiness meets fullness.

as darkness seeks light,
as loneliness wants love,

as what is wounded
longs for healing.

About the Image: My Love Notes friend Sarah S sent the photo postcard above for International Women’s Day. She sent the postcards with “prayers for peace, strength, and women all over the world, especially women of the Ukraine.” The majestic sunflower was shot by A. Kumurdian. Don’t you just love the postal tattoos? 🙂

Purple | Women and Inspiration

“Women’s History Month.” Designed by SunsetGal55 on Zazzle. From Kathi G.

I’m back today with more purple!

Since purple is the color associated with women’s movements and social justice for women and since we are at the end of Women’s History Month, I am sharing the purple postcards and inspiration I received from pen friends this month in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

From Lori Ann W:

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Behind every great woman, I pray will be another great woman, whispering “you’ve got this” in her ear.

From Rae L:

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Stay smart!
Stay strong!
Stay beautiful!

From Christine B:

Fight for things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.  —Ruth Bader Ginsburg

From Suzette R:

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To tell a woman everything she cannot do is to tell her what she can.—Spanish Proverb

Finally, from Gerda H, a new friend from the Netherlands:

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When the power of love overcomes the lover of power, the world will know peace. —Jimi Hendrix

These beautiful souls filled my mailbox with purple love and flowers galore. Lori Ann and Rae even included seeds so I can sow my own purple flowers–columbines, morning glories, and wildflowers! Of course, they’ll find their way to the Pics and Posts when they bloom!

Until till next time…

Blooms, Love, and Revolution

“You Love Me a Thousand Summers Ago,” Frank Moth

In honor of World Poetry Day (yesterday), the first day of spring (two days ago), and Black Women’s Appreciation Day (March 1), I am sharing a surrealistic floral postcard and three short poems. I intended to write a post for each special day, but…life.

Here you are,
Black and Woman
and in love with yourself.

You are terrifying.
They are terrified
(as they should be).   Upile Chisala

***

I want to think that God smiles
when a black woman
is brave enough to love herself. Upile Chisala

***

“i love myself.”
the
quietest.
simplest.
most
powerful.
revolution.
ever.

—ism, nayyirah waheed


About the Image: My literary twin, Gina B, sent the postcard for International Women’s Day. She included an Audre Lorde quote and a postage stamp that features a female German poet. I have decided each part of her woman-affirming gift deserves its own post. The art here is the work of digital collage artist, Frank Moth. I don’t know his reasons for creating this piece–or any of his “Bloom” pieces–but when I first saw this image I knew I had to pair it with these fierce Black woman-affirming poems! See Moth’s Instagram page for more of his “Bloom” artwork. See the links for more work by the poets.

Love Notes | There is beauty…

Suzette Purple Wildflower

“There Is Beauty,” Photo by Suzette R.

At night the watchmen of the city say,
“Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the
east.”
     And at noontide the toilers and the way-
farers say, “We have seen her leaning over
the earth from the windows of the sunset.”
 
     In winter say the snow-bound, “She shall
come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”
     And in the summer heat the reapers say,
“We have seen her dancing with the autumn
leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her
hair.”  –Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet
 

Sadly, we’ve reached the final Love Notes 38 post. This round was a little of what my soul needed. I am in a tough place (emotionally), and Suzette’s well-prepared packages offered a bit of respite.

Love Notes 38, Prompt 3: There is beauty…

For this prompt, Suzette shared an excerpt of “On Beauty” [above] by Kahlil Gibran, one of my favorite poets.

She, then, shared her own insights on the prompt:
 
There is beauty in every facet of our day-to-day lives. The trick is to be watchful and ready to see it and embrace it when it happens.  –Suzette R.
 
and 
 
There’s beauty in folding a freshly washed load of laundry. There’s beauty in shadows cast by the setting sun. There’s beauty in holding a favorite book. There’s beauty in loving. There’s beauty in aging skin. There’s beauty in every landscape and vista. There is beauty all around when there’s love at home.  –Suzette R.
 
Such healing words!
 
The three posts this week have focused on Suzette’s responses to the prompts, but I did not mention the experience of receiving her elegant packages. You have seen her gorgeous artwork, but you have not seen the little touches–butterfly stamped envelopes, butterfly notecards and washi tape, additional notes of encouragement and poetry tucked inside glassine envelopes. The responses to the prompts were printed on nice card stock and cut/edged exquisitely–almost as if she prepared them to go into my journals. The care she took with each package warmed and soothed my aching heart.
 
Thank you, Suzette, for your friendship and for taking the time to craft beautiful mail that I am honored to share with the world.

Love Notes | I hope you discover…

“Discover.” Photo by Suzette R.

Love Notes Round 38 (!) just ended, and my partner, Suzette R., sent three very touching envelopes overflowing with beauty and inspiration. As the chaotic and maddening end of January gives way to the frenzy of February, this week is a good time to allow Suzette’s lovely expressions to do the blog work for me. I hope you are inspired.

LN 38 Prompt 1: I hope you discover…

I hope you discover…

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.—Jawaharlal Nehru

I hope you discover…

It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. – Rumi

I hope you discover…

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do. —Brené Brown

I hope you discover…

What you seek is seeking you. —Rumi

I hope you discover…

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world. –Harriet Tubman

May you have a week filled with wondrous discovery.

Joy in the Small

“Find Joy,” Monica C for Global heART Exchange

Hello there! I am dropping in with a quick reminder for the weekend:

Find joy in the small things.

Life isn’t meant to be grand all the time, and it isn’t wise to spend our moments seeking or waiting for the grander ones.

Participate fully in the small.

There is always joy in the small moments–the way the sun paints the sky just before evening falls, crisp fall leaves crunch-crunch-crunching beneath our feet, a child’s infectious laughter, warm hugs, holding hands while walking and talking through the woods, an unexpected visit or call from a friend, a cozy fireplace, an afternoon nap.

Each day holds many opportunities for joy. Don’t let the “ordinariness” of the opportunities cause you to miss them. In fact, look for them. Joy is certainly there.


About the Image: The “Find Joy” handmade postcard above features the work of Monica C. She was one of my “receive from” partners in the September Global heART swap. Her postcard arrived on a gloomy day, the only piece of mail in my lonely post office box. The card was made with chalk pastels, ink, and a whole lot of joy. Thank you, Monica!

Small Acts, Big Impact

Christine B.

“Peace” by Christine B.

Hello December!

Classes are over. Grades are in. I am happy for the quiet office, slower pace, and for time to give attention to things simmering on the back burner. More importantly, I am excited to have time to focus on the holidays and to participate in meaningful challenges like Action for Happiness’ Do Good December (DGD), which encourages small acts of kindness.  I first heard of DGD two years ago, and am eager to participate again this year.

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This morning, my friend Christine sent a message with a Nikki Banas’ quote (below) on the impact of our small acts of kindness. Her message solidified my plan to share the kindness calendar with readers today.

You never know the true impact you have on those around you. You never know how much someone needed that smile you gave them. You never know how much your kindness turned someone else’s entire life around. You never know how much someone needed that long hug or deep talk. So don’t wait to be kind. Don’t wait for someone else to be kind first. Don’t wait for better circumstances or for someone to change. Just be kind, because you never know how much someone needs it. —Nikki Banas

Be sure to download the calendar and do one small act of kindness every day. Your act might make a huge difference in someone’s life.


About the Image: The gorgeous artwork above is the work of Christine B. It reminds me of where I’d love to be–peacefully sitting on a beach, watching the ocean and a golden sunset (or sunrise). Christine sent this with sunflowers for my birthday. Her loving act of sharing her creativity has made a significant difference in my life. ❤ [The piece was made with alcohol ink, a fine-point black Sharpie, and oil pens].

The Masters | Gustave Caillebotte’s “Sunflowers Along the Seine”

Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte, “Sunflowers Along the Seine,” ca 1885-86, Oil on Canvas, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, from the Estate of Diana Dollar Knowles

I did not plan to post today. However, my hubby dropped by my office and surprised me with a beautiful bunch of sunflowers, so now I’m in a sunny mood! This is in direct opposition to my pre-sunflowers mood—blah, eh, weary.

I will eventually share photos of my office blossoms here, but for now, let’s pause to enjoy a little bit of sunflower heaven–French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte’s (1848-1894) Sunflowers Along the Seine.

My Love Notes friend Eileen V sent this stunning masterpiece to me after we tragically lost my nephew.

Sunflowers Along the Seine by Gustave Caillebotte (French, 1848–1894) is a dynamic composition in which a frieze of golden sunflowers dwarfs a view of sparkling water with a floating, white pavilion moored at the riverbank in the background. […] The flowers, which feature prominently in this depiction, and the lively color palette Caillebotte used for this subject, suggest his passion for the garden that he cultivated there. The artist often used his garden for painting en plein air to capture the effects of radiant daylight, which are conveyed here in rhythmic brushwork across the water’s surface. —Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Sunflowers have this way of seeming almost human in their interactions. Look closely and you will see sunflowers gazing across the Seine and others in conversation–some gossiping, some in deep, meaningful dialogue.

Pretty amazing artwork, right? But they still can’t take the place of beholding these beauties in real life.

Now, as promised, a little soul work with Meister Eckhart:

Nothing of My Deeds
Meister Eckhart | Sweeney and Burrows

When I am in the wrong mind
I presume that You desire my goodness,
but when my mind turns aright
I find that You want nothing of my deeds
and everything of my heart.


Note: You can see a couple of pics of my pretty sunnies by clicking the link in the first sentence or by checking out my IG page. 🙂