“In Solitude the Mind Gains Strength”

My day began at 5:00 a.m. after only three hours of sleep (last few days of class, lots of grading), so today’s post is short and sweet.

I share with you a “quote card” I designed last year– a bit of wisdom to carry with you through the week.

“In Solitude…”

Be sure to find a bit of solitude in the days ahead.

Wabi-Sabi: My Liberate Your Art 2017 Reject

The Liberate Your Art 2017 (LYA) swap has begun! I received my first postcard a couple of days ago and I can hardly contain my excitement as I wait for the remaining cards to arrive.

Some people begin posting their cards on social media and “side-swapping” right away, but I usually wait till the LYA blog hop to post and begin sending extra cards.  I look forward to “the surprises” and want to see the postcards for the first time when they land in my mailbox.

It doesn’t hurt to share a postcard that didn’t make the cut.  Right?

As usual, I had a hard time deciding which cards to choose for the swap, so I had a lot of different cards printed. The design below was an early pick, but after seeing it printed as a postcard, I changed my mind.

“Wabi-Sabi: Beauty and Decay”

There’s nothing spectacular about the original photo, but I liked it when I shot it last August. I was a bit fatigued after being in meetings all day and stepped outside to escape for a moment. The flowers provided aesthetic relief after being trapped indoors.  They were showing signs of decay, but there was something in their beauty that caught my eye that rainy afternoon.

“Beauty and Decay,” iPhone Photo

I edited the photo a half dozen ways using the iColorama app. This was a favorite:

“Beauty and Decay,” Edited in iColorama

Wabi-sabi: a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.  [Definition from WordStuck].

The Japanese principle of wabi-sabi provided the perfect expression for what I was hoping to capture in the photo–beauty in imperfection.  After adding “wabi-sabi” to the photo, I sent the photo for a photo inspiration swap hosted for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

“Beauty and Decay,” Edited in iColorama

The final edit (first photo) was colorful and cheerful, and I appreciate that it did not mask the imperfections.

Considering the message of the design, it is a bit ironic that this one was not chosen for the swap.  No worries though.  It has made its way into at least two mailboxes and I have a few more in my stash to share. 😉

Have a fabulous week!

Happy Spring: Education Outdoors

The weather today was (and is) too gorgeous for indoors.  By afternoon, I couldn’t resist, so a couple of my students and I decided to take education outdoors.

English majors discussing issues they’re examining for their final projects.

How did you celebrate the first day of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere)?

Love Inspired: Loyal Birds and “Fowl” Words

For a recent “Love Inspired” swap for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot Gale D., my partner, went birds and feathers on me.  The goal of the swap was to pair a love quote with an appropriate photo.

Gale settled on a quote from  A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

Some people care too much.  I think it’s called love.

Gale does a lot of bird photography, so she sent me two of her favorite photos.

The first, a pair of Mute Swans:

“Mute Swans” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

According to Gale’s note, the Mute Swans “stay together forever. It saves time and energy, and they produce more cygnets this way.  They make a great team.”

I found some interesting tidbits about Mute Swans on Cornell University’s All About Birds Site.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mute Swans are not native to North America
  • The swans pretty much mate for life, but will find another mate if a partner dies
  • Their reputation for monogamy along with their white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures
  • The Mute Swan is the “star” of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling
  • The swans are pretty aggressive (so give them lots of space)
  • The oldest known Mute Swan is 26 years, 9 months old

Gale also sent a pair of Canada Geese and their goslings.

“Canada Geese,” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

Gale wrote that she loves Canada Geese, but although they adapt around humans well, she hasn’t had much opportunities to get close to the geese.  Ironically, she lives in Canada.  This particular photo was shot in a cemetery pond.

There are a LOT of Canada Geese on the university campus where I work.  She’d have no problem getting up close and personal with them. During early fall, they pretty much rule the campus, even stopping traffic at times.  That can be annoying, but it is a pretty glorious sight to see them take flight in formation.

During the second year of their lives Canada Geese find a mate, and like Mute Swans, they are monogamous and mate for life.

It truly is inspiring to find such “faithfulness” and “loyalty” in the animal kingdom.  We often think so little of them, but we have so much to learn from them.

“It’s About Changing the Very Face of Power Itself”

Happy International Women’s Day!

-2017-

 

Quotes and Hearts: Love on Postcards

I recall my glee the evening my hubby handed me the stack of postcards he had just retrieved from the mailbox and post office box.  I placed them in my planner hoping to savor them later, but then life happened–illnesses, midterms, and life in general.  Now, that the madness is less intense for a moment [Spring Break, yay!], I have time to really appreciate the postcards.

The postcards came from friends and Love Notes and heART Exchange pals.

The February 2017 heART Exchange focused on “Quotes from the Heart,”  so participants had to include a quote somewhere on the postcard.  I received postcards from two of my three partners.  I realized after receiving my third card that I submitted my address with the wrong zip code to Louise, the swap coordinator.  I used my P.O. Box address with my residential zip code. Duh! I’m actually amazed that most of them made it to me. Kudos to the USPS for the extra work they had to put in!

Nancy of Ellijay, Georgia sent a cute bunny with an inspiring greeting.

Love You Bunny, Art by Nancy F.

Love You Bunny, Art by Nancy F.

You are so special! Believe in yourself and the dreams you hold. Dance in the rain and play in the moonlight. Celebrate YOU in all your glory…Enjoy all the magic that life has to offer.

The happy-face rabbit gives me the warm-fuzzies.  Bunnies (rabbits) are among my favorite “critters,” second to teddy bears.  I especially appreciate the charge to “dance in the rain.”  I can’t wait till the weather stabilizes and I can do just that. There’s something cleansing about walking in the rain.  I imagine dancing in the rain is liberating.

“Lacy Heart,” Die cut by Lori W.

Lori W. of Elroy, Wisconsin sent the lacy heart reminding me that [life] is “about love, compassion, kindness, and faith.”  It is so easy lately to get caught up in trifles, so this was a needed reminder.   She also enclosed a tag which now fills a slot in my faith planner.

“You Are Loved,” Tag from Lori W.

Lori also sent a beautiful autumn postcard with vines framing a window.   How did she know about my romance with autumn? 😉

“Nature’s Décor,” postcard from Lori W.

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

Christine B. who introduced me to both Love Notes and the heART Exchange, made a sweet fabric postcard and sent it as an extra.

Fabric Postcard by Christine B.

Fabric Postcard by Christine B.

If you love someone, tell them because hearts are often broken by words left unspoken.

Martha, who participates in both swaps, sent another of her gorgeous watercolors.

“Nesting,” Watercolor by Martha Slavin

Your soul is the place inside of you which reaches out to connect you with the universe.

Slightly unrelated, a second Joy to the World card, from the December heART Exchange, winged its way to me from the United Kingdom last month.

“Wishing you Joy, Peace, and Happiness,” from Ann M.

Ann M. ran into a few snafus, and since she was sending the card after the height of the festive season, she remade it, modifying the colors.  As far as I’m concerned, blessing the world with “joy” is never out of season.

Love Notes also came in to help me celebrate “love month”–two from new penfriends, Sarah and Eileen, and one from Christine B. (whose postcard made the green-eyed monster appear because she was exactly where I wanted to be, on the beach in Florida). [Click an image for a closer look and details].

I was ill twice in February, so my friend Cy surprised me with a “get well” postcard.

“She stretched herself upon tiptoe and peeped over the edge of the mushroom and her eyes immediately met those of a large blue caterpillar.”

The postcard is part of the 100-postcard MacMillan Alice set.  The illustration is from Carroll’s manuscript for Alice’s Adventures Underground.  The timing of this postcard was perfect, not just because I was ill but because I had just sent the same postcard to a swapper who loves Alice in Wonderland. The mail gods sent it back to me. 🙂

Last, but not least, I received a unique handmade postcard from my penfriend, Beckra.

From Beckra

“The Workings of the Heart,” Designed by Rebecca R. (Beckra)

Beckra had fun making these cards for friends and family.  No two are alike. She created the texture by painting over text pages and threaded her design over the texture, allowing the diagonals of the threaded design to play against the straight lines of the text that are just below the surface.  Her goal was something “vaguely like a heart, but then abstracted.”

I thoroughly enjoy Valentine’s Day cards that deviate from the typical motifs–red hearts, flowers, and chocolate–so I’m loving this one.

My mailbox was full of love last month, and I did my best to reciprocate.  I’ll share the postcard I sent in 50 different directions tomorrow.

Until then, maybe you can take a few minutes and write a postcard tonight.  Someone in your life needs to be reminded that he or she is loved.

Hugs!

Microblog Mondays: The Wisdom of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring

I recently began a new swap series in the “All Things Book-Related” group on swap-bot. For the series, swappers must send partners a book-related postcard with a quote from a fictional or poetic work that enlightens, inspires, or “shows us the way.”  The quote may be printed on the front of the postcard or written on the back.

This is the most recent card I received–for Literary Wisdom #3:

Literary Wisdom

Literary Wisdom from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring

The postcard came from Mandi of Lake Elsinore, California.  She writes, “We hear so much bad news these days that we forget there is still love and happiness in the world.”

The Tolkien quote served as a perfect ending to a class discussion on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”  One of the most important take-aways from our discussion was the need for us to remain vigilant in the quest to protect our freedoms and preserve our souls while doing so.  We protect ourselves during perilous times–such as these–by recognizing the struggle is not all there is, by praying/mediating, by moving in love, and by immersing ourselves in the love of family and friends.

microblog_mondays

A Gracious Good-bye

It seems everywhere I turn people are saying “good riddance” to 2016.  I’m sure they have their reasons. In many ways, 2016 was a hard, hard year, and 2017 provides the opportunity to put it all behind us with the hope of a “clean slate,” a new start, and another “chance” to get things right.

But I hope as we are saying good-bye to 2016, we reflect on the good that came with the bad: For every death, there was a birth; for every loss, a victory; for every failure, a success.  Even if we feel none of these positives, there are always lessons and gifts–even in pain, disappointment, and loss.

I encourage you to part ways with the “old” graciously.  Eventually, there will be reasons to look back fondly.

 

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?

Fierce Woman: “Ride, Sally Ride!”

Some time ago, I coordinated a “Fierce Woman” photo swap.  A fierce woman, for the purpose of the swap, was defined as: a mover and shaker in science, music, politics, history, art, dance, theatre, literature, activism (etc.) who inspires other women to strive for excellence.  Participants had to find a quote by a fierce woman and capture (or choose from their collection) a complementary photo.  Tynkerbelle aka Zoey aka Peppie, shared a shot from a launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  She appropriately paired the photo with a quote by Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012) who was the first American woman in space (1983).

Sally Ride by Tynkerbelle aka Zoey Rayne aka Peppie Selders

“All Adventures…” by Tynkerbelle aka Zoey Rayne aka Peppie Selders

Being a “wordsy” type of woman with a son who is both “wordsy” and “sciencey,” I have to keep up with space, astronauts, and a lot of other science stuff that usually holds my attention for only a few minutes at a time.  I enjoyed being able to share Zoey’s photo with him and teaching him about Dr. Ride, but I learned a little something myself.  While I knew Dr. Ride was a physicist and (of course) an astronaut, I did not realize that she also had an undergraduate degree in English.  Of course, that did my English professor heart a world of good! I tell students all the time that a degree in English can place them on the path to any career they desire.  Dr. Sally Ride is evidence–with a degree in English, one can soar!

All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.

I keep the photo inspiration on my desk as a reminder that it is natural to be afraid when I venture into new territory, but I shouldn’t allow fear to keep me from moving in the direction of my dreams.

What’s your favorite “fierce woman” quote? Share it in the comments, and maybe, I’ll make some photo inspiration with “your” quote.