Kindness Week Day 2: Be Nice to the Meanies

Today’s Kindness Prompt: Be kind to a person who isn’t so kind to you. I’m referring here to someone you see or interact with regularly–the acquaintance who always finds something snarky to say about you, your hair, your clothes, your goals. The coworker who works to criticize you, invalidate every word you speak or ignore your presence.

I know. I know. It’s so much easier to pay “evil for evil,” but think about what that does to your character and soul.

People’s meanness comes from a wounded place inside them. For some, it’s easier to strike out and hurt others than it is to deal with their inner demons.  In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz counsels us, “Don’t take anything personally.” It’s the second agreement and one I embrace wholeheartedly. Very little of what others do is because of us. As Tarshia, one of my besties, puts it, “It’s not me. It’s them.” 😀

Bad behavior toward us can’t be justified, but how we respond can make a world of difference.

Like bullies, mean people need someone to stand up to them–not someone big and bad who can match them hit for hit, but someone who can hit them with nice. Think of it in terms of the phrase we’re all familiar with–“kill them with kindness.” Of course, we’re not literally harming anyone, but we’re killing the meanness, healing the hurt, or undoing the wiring that makes them behave terribly toward others.

This doesn’t always work, but at least your kindness will disarm them and you’ll get to walk away–hands clean and character intact–without the icky residuals of stooping to their level.  At most, you’ll change a heart and gain an amiable relationship, if not a friend. Besides, kindness always takes the high road, and you can always feel good about that.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you run out and buy the big meanie a cup of coffee or curry favor in any way. I mean, respond to the slights with kindness–forgo the quick retorts, eye rolling, or backbiting. When the person who seems to be out to get you strikes, strike back in the most unexpected way–with kindness. You know what to do.

If you’re just joining “Kindness Week,” be sure to start with Day 1.

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Note about the postcard: Becky aka Dragongirl on swap-bot  sent the postcard for a swap in celebration of International Women’s Day 2018. It was purchased from postcardfair.com.

Until tomorrow…

Everyday Fierce

Can you imagine walking through a fish market and encountering a woman who is so content, so fierce that her smile captivates you, even as she’s slinging a knife and her hands are covered in blood and guts?

When my photographer friend, Gale D, traveled to Mumbai some years ago, that is exactly who she encountered. The woman, “who was cutting baby sharks, had an incredible smile and a beauty that did not match her surroundings” or the task she had undertaken.

“Fierce Woman” by Gale D.

When she saw the description for the “Fierce Woman: Photo Inspiration” swap in the A Thousand Words group on swap-bot,  Gale knew she would use this image. The swap, just like the others I’d hosted in the past, required that individuals pair an inspirational quote by a woman with a complementary photograph. Gale felt Jennifer Lee’s quote captured the experience and the photo:

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

This quote has been attributed (by some) to Lee, noted for directing Disney’s Frozen, but I haven’t been able to find any information on when and where she said this.

What I appreciate about the pairing of the photo with the quote is that it speaks against the usual narrative that our pursuits must be grand or lead to magnificent outcomes, that they must involve an encounter with and a conquering of our fears. The woman in the photo shows us that even the mundane moments of everyday life require fearlessness, passion, and fire.

How to Take a Photo Walk When You Can’t

“Chickadee.” Photograph by Gale D.

Can we say tired? I am so physically and mentally exhausted from grading, grading, grading, and grading. I want to take a photo walk, but (1) my camera battery isn’t charged. I learned this last night when I was about to record my son playing in the strings orchestra. And (2) I barely have enough energy to make it to the door let alone through it.

Therefore, I decided to take my photo walk indoors today. How? Thankfully, Diane W, Midteacher on swap-bot, created a series of swaps for the A Thousand Words group that’s right up my photo alley. The series, called Take a Walk, encourages photographers to take some time with their cameras regularly and share their photos with others in the group.

If you’ve been following Pics and Posts long enough, you know photo walks are my go-to for “getting through the crazies.” I take a walk–camera in hand–quite regularly during the work day to take a break from screens and students, to readjust or reset. Also, my hubby, son, and I take photo walks and drives on weekends when the weather’s nice (or tolerable).

Today, I need to follow a different path, so we’ll take a walk with Gale D, Grstamping on swap-bot.

Gale, from Ontario (Canada), spends a lot of time outdoors and loves shooting “in nature,” particularly in her favorite spot near Lake Ontario. She “can hand feed birds, watch squirrels at play, stalk deer, and be stalked by wild turkeys.” These ventures help her to feel close to nature and clear her mind. They also keep her sane.

She sent me a few of her memorable encounters–either because of their beauty or because of how the animals trusted her in their space–from her January photo walk.

Gale was allowed to get up close and personal with the chickadees. She even fed a few from her hand! They love sunflower seeds!

“Hand Feeding the Chickadees.” Photograph by Gale D.

A vibrant visit with a blue jay added a splash of color to the grays and browns of winter.

“Blue Jay: Vibrant in Winter.” Photograph by Gale D.

And finally, she had a brief tĂȘte-Ă -tĂȘte with a squirrel, her favorite subject because they’re not only beautiful but “they’re fun to watch!”

“Squirrel.” Photograph by Gale D.

I love these photos, but I’m kind of interested in seeing a photo captured while she was evading wild turkeys! 😀

You can take a photo walk too, even if you can’t get outdoors. Check out Glenrosa Journeys. Candace takes readers with her as she explores Arizona. Her photography and her blog are inspiring. For photos without the blog, check out the Nature Photography Group on Flickr. You can find more of Gale’s work at Photographic Touch.

Stay tuned. I’ll share more “take a walk” photos soon.

Walk on!

Children’s Book Illustration Postcard: “Summer” by Eric Carle

It’s “Sunflower Week” on Pics and Posts, so I’m sharing a children’s book illustration postcard out of sequence because…well, it’s a sunflower! 😉

Samantha (Sammoning on swap-bot), from the Netherlands, sent the Eric Carle postcard below  for Children’s Book Illustration Postcard swap #30.

Eric Carle, “Summer”

If you’re familiar with Eric Carle, the author/artist of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you probably recognized the sunflower as his work immediately.  The postcard comes from the World of Eric Carle 100 Postcards, a delightful collection full of the artist’s brilliant work. There is very little information about the postcard. The image was posted on Carle’s blog almost eight years ago with no other detail but the title. It is part of his “season’s collection.”

By the way, if you need a dose of the warm fuzzies, you should really check out his blog.

Carle has “written and/or illustrated more than 70 picture books.” His collage illustrations are made with hand-painted tissue paper. If you’re looking for a fun (and easy) art project to help you decompress after a long work day, check out Carle’s slideshow in which he shares his technique: How I Paint My Tissue Papers.

And if you’re (ever) in Amherst, Massachusetts, check out the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

See you tomorrow…with even more sunflowers.

Holly Art!

The first cards for Liberate Your Art 2018 go out this week, and I am beside myself with excitement as I wait for the cards to find me. Thankfully, my artist friends have kept me satisfied while I wait. One such person is Holly who sent two envelopes of goodness to me over the last few weeks.

Holly joined the “Let’s Celebrate Pooh” swap I hosted in the Cup and Chaucer group on  swap-bot. We won’t tell anyone, but after seeing the beautiful art on her blog, I was slightly disappointed that the swap “randomizer” did not assign her as my “receive from” partner.  But the swap gods were with me anyway. Not only did my assigned partner send me a super cute Pooh bookmark but Holly sent a precious Pooh envelope–even though I wasn’t her partner! Is that cool or what?

Here’s the handmade bookmark from my assigned partner,  which now “marks” the page in one of my journals.

Pooh Bookmark, Made by Moominbrooke

Wanna see what Holly sent?

Pooh, a Tree, and the Bees, Bookmark, Handmade by Holly M.

As you can see–an adorable Pooh bookmark, complete with bees and her impeccable lettering. The envelope was equally adorable, embellished with Pooh stamps and “bees” washi tape.

Recycled, Pooh-Inspired Security Envelope, Holly M.

The swap gods were kind to me again when Holly and I were the only two in a “Celebrate Dr. Seuss” swap in the Cup and Chaucer group.

She sent a letter typed on a vintage typewriter, a “faithfully copied” Cat in the Hat themed note card, envelope, and a bunch of adorable Dr. Seuss themed mailing labels. Perfect for mailing letters to kiddos and other Seuss fans.

Here’s the card:

“The Cat in the Hat,” Faithfully Copied by Holly M.

And the envelope with one of the labels affixed [ignore the smudges from my scanner]:

Envelope by Holly M.

Holly made the card for me to share, but hmm….I’m not sure I’m willing to part with it [yet]. It needs to spend some time on my inspiration wall. Maybe, I’ll fill the envelope with Seuss stickers and send it into the world. I think that’s fair. Don’t  you?

If you get a moment, take a stroll over to Holly’s ThreeSixFiveArt blog where Holly posts (almost) daily about her “random little pieces of art.” Her discipline is inspiring.

One of my artist-professor friends told me that with time and practice anyone can become an artist, that art is a skill that anyone can master. I’m taking him at his word, so when my life feels less chaotic and more like my own, I’m going to enroll in art classes.

A Quiet Moment to Consider the Pretty

This moment…quiet. I hear my colleague’s voice through the walls. Other than that, I’m relishing a sweet quiet that I haven’t had all week.

I need this moment.

“A Modern-Day Castle,” Photo by Celia

I’m taking advantage of this unhurried silence to look through the box of pretties I keep in my office–beautiful photos taken by my many photographer friends on swap-bot.  I ran across a set of photos by Celia, a Sharp Shooter I have not “seen” in ages. Her photography is lovely and I distinctly remember the package, though I received it many years ago–before I started blogging.

“Never Too Much Red,” Photo by Celia

The photos deserve more than my eyes, so I’ve decided to share them because, maybe, you need a pause in your hectic schedule; maybe, you need a moment or two to consider the pretty.

“Blown Kisses and Blushes,” Photo by Celia

From the modern-day castle to the bright red flowers filling the frame; from the sweet innocence of blown kisses from one blushing child to another to teddy bear love…

“Precious Teddy,” Photo by Celia

These images fill me with good things, help quiet my mind, and make the silence sweeter.

Advice from a Polar Bear

I’m having another insanely busy Monday, but I had to drop by with a little “Advice from Nature” Moominbrooke (on swap-bot) sent with some super-cute Winnie-the-Pooh mail [I’ll share the Pooh mail later this week].

Advice from Nature Products. From Your True Nature.

We can learn a lot from Polar Bears. The card reminds me of a couple of my son’s well-loved books that teach about various animals and the spiritual lessons we can learn from them.  If we take the time to observe, we’ll find there are indeed lessons for us in the animal kingdom and in nature in general.

Do you have any “advice from nature” you can share?

Have a super-cool week!