Zhang Ailing, or Eileen Chang: Meeting a “New” Author

I recently bought a postcard collection of 100 writers.  I pulled out every card, looking for women writers and writers of color.

The black and white photographs were a treat for the eyes, but I was sorely disappointed with the lack of diversity in the collection.  There were only three African American writers in the box–James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and Malcolm X.   There were a number of Euro-American women writers and a few Japanese writers–all men.  There were no African American women.  There was only one Chinese woman–Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang).

Zhang Ailing (Eileen Chang)

Although less than excited about the purchase, I was pleased to find this stunning portrait of Zhang/Chang. Although I’d heard of her, I’d never read any of her works.  After reading a brief biography, my interest was piqued and she was added to my late spring/summer reading list.

I can’t wait to get started!  What’s on your reading list?

 

My Bouquet of Yellow Postcards

My Yellow Postcard Bouquet

I cannot let March end without sharing the big yellow bouquet of postcards I received in honor of International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month.  With Beckra’s (ongoing) permission, I hosted her “Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day” swap on swap-bot for the fifth time.  I felt compelled to share the yellow blessing with the Love Notes community and many were excited to participate.  So, in addition to the swap-bot participants and the women in my circle of family and friends, I also sent dozens of postcards to Love Notes participants.  In return, my mailbox was filled with yellow flowers all month long.

The first postcards came from my two swap-bot partners, Jan and Valerie [Click image for a closer look].

My penfriend Beckra sent a bright closeup of a yellow flower she photographed.  She hasn’t participated in the swaps lately, but she always sends me a card for IWD.

“Happy International Women’s Day.” Photograph by R.R., Beckra

Then, the cards from my Love Notes pals made their way to my P.O. Box from various parts of the USA and the world.

Christine B’s was the first to arrived with an IWD greeting and a sweet message–“You are an outstanding woman and I am glad we connected.”

“Happy, Happy International Women’s Day.” Photographer, Christine B.

After reading the Karle’s Wings post, Christine sent a second postcard, orchids, in memory of my sister, Karlette.  Isn’t she the best?  There’s a special heart hidden in the photo. Can you see it?

“Orchid for Karlette.” Photograph by Christine B.

I usually don’t mind postal markings on postcards.  I “minded” this time. :-/

Lorelei sent a coloring card with a couple of spots colored in yellow:

Illustration by Johanna Basford, from Secret Garden 20 Postcards

Many sent photo postcards.  Some, like  Beckra’s and Christine’s, featured the photography of the senders [Click image for a closer look].

Ellen even used a stamp featuring my favorite flower:

Sunflower Postage

Some sent “store-bought” postcards: [Click image for a closer look].

Many included inspiring messages:

“Life is Beautiful.” From Jackie W.

She is clothed in strength and dignity,and she laughs without fear of the future.  –Proverbs 31:25

We get so worried about being “pretty.” Let’s be pretty kind, pretty funny, pretty smart, pretty strong. –Britt Nicole

“Waterlily.” From Eileen of Germany

Little yellow flowers
Dancing with the breeze
Little yellow flowers
Huddled round the trees
Little yellow flowers
Seemed to know my pain
Little yellow flowers
in my mem’ry will remain.  –Valerie Dohren

Yellow Jessamine, State Flower of South Carolina with an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, State Butterfly of South Carolina.  From Connie of S.C.

Some women fear the fire; some women simply become it.  –R.H. Sin

“Tree Cotton Plant.” From Sheila L.

May we continue to make progress on all issues that affect women.

Some featured the art of the senders with inspirational reminders [Click an image for a closer look].

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.  –Mother Teresa [Cricket]

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.  –Unknown [Lori W.]

Debra D. sent an elegant “thank you” for my “hosting” the swap.

“Thanks,” Heartmade by Debra D. of Virginia

Martha S., whose work has been featured on Pics and Posts before, sent one of her gorgeous artistic creations with a poem (the scan does little justice).

“Cherry Blossom Season.” Artist Martha S.

An artist to me
is one
of those
kind of prophets
of our community.
Their antennae,
or their sense
of what’s
happening,
is so vital
and so pure
that we always
need to listen
to them. –Fiach Mac Conghail

And finally, Lori-Anne C. of Canada,  sent a handmade, sunflower-shaped postcard that made me squeal on a day when I really, really needed to be reminded to “face the sun.”

“Sunflower Love.” Artist Lori C.

The beautifully written message on the back of the postcard was just what I needed to hear the day it arrived.

Isn’t that an “amazing” message?

You are amazing and strong and brave and wonderful!

When life tries to convince you otherwise, be sure to carry this heartfelt message with you.

Thanks, ladies, for all the postcard love!  Until next time…Hugs!

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

Happy International Women’s Day!

-2017-

 

Mama Is a Saint!

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I woke up this morning thinking about my mom and the absolutely beautiful woman she is. Today is her 80th birthday and I am deeply grateful that God continues to gift us with her life.

I hear it over and over and over again.  “Your mom is a saint.”  She’s not simply a good, good person.  She’s a saint.  I’ve learned to accept that perhaps she is, and unlike many women, I wish I were more like my mother.

My mom carried 10 children in her womb, delivered us naturally, and took care of all of us.  As far as I’m concerned, this alone should be enough to qualify her for sainthood.

I lived in the house with us.  And it was a wonderful, noisy house with loads of love and fun, but it also had its fair share of the typical sibling rivalries, squabbles, and kids who always needed something or had a question that just had to be answered.  In my mind, I’m thinking my kid times 10.  No way!

Can you imagine this type of person who has enough love and patience for 10 individual personalities trying to find their way in the world?  Can you imagine worrying and fretting over not one or two or even five but 10 children? Parenting is scary, scary business, and I shutter to think of the challenges ahead for my one kid.  I can’t imagine having to walk with 10 heartbeats floating around in this world.

Mom with my sister Karlette (RIP) and nephew Eric

Mom with my sister Karlette (RIP) and nephew Eric

I distinctly remember my mom taking all of us kids on the bus to Canal Street in New Orleans [Canal Street was the shopping center of New Orleans then].  There might have been only eight or nine of us then, but we’re all pretty close in age. How did she do that?  With nothing less than amazing organizational skills and child management skills.

This explains why our house was impeccable at any time of the day–even with 10 kids.  Unexpected guests might have been met with an apology for her “messy” house, but they probably looked around confused.  My mom’s house was [and is] always clean.  There was no scrambling to clear the clutter when uninvited guests arrived. I don’t even know how she managed that with all of us running all over the house?

And just like our home, we were always clean and dressed and fed well with home-cooked meals every day.  This is no overstatement.  My mom cooked every. single. day. for twelve people. My mom’s version of fast food? Burgers and fries she made herself that were way better than anything we could have purchased at a restaurant.

Mom let us grow and gave us wings.  No matter how many times we came to her with a problem or situation, my mom never directed our actions.  She may have made a comment or two about the situation, but she never told us what to do or tried to manipulate us into doing what she considered the “right” thing.  If we made the wrong decision, she let us fall and learn from our mistakes.  She was still mom, loving us without judgment and allowing us to become.

My mom sacrificed for us in ways that continue to impact our lives. I once asked her what was her dream career. She answered that at one point she wanted to be a nurse. That would have been the perfect career for her. She has a calm and comforting nature that others are drawn to and that would have been so beneficial in nursing. She chose, instead, to nurture the 10 of us into productive members of society.

I know, nowadays, we celebrate mothers who juggle family, careers, community obligations and still find time for themselves, but there was an incredible amount of security for us in knowing that mom was [still is] always there and would always find a way for the things we wanted/needed.

Besides qualifying for sainthood because she put up with us crazy kids, mom is a saint because she put up with my dad.  My dad is a wonderful person, but he and my mom are almost complete opposites.  He is always ready for a party while she prefers the quiet of home.  He spends a lot of time on Facebook baiting his friends and watching CNN and the other news channels while she sits quietly reading.  He loves long debates. She’s not having it.  She says “her piece” and nothing more.  She’s not having the back and forth for too long.  My dad goes on and on and on.

Mom and Dad in the early years.

Mom and Dad in the early years.

I think God chose my mom for us because only a person with her character and spirit could love us all to health and wholeness.  With her quiet spirit, she’s not easily unsettled, so people’s issues (read: craziness) don’t faze her.  She has a heart of gold and always sees the good in people.  She welcomes all and listens without judgment.  She is the embodiment of forgiveness.  She forgave our “wrongdoings” without making us feel rejected or small, and taught us how to forgive.  If we went to her with some “offense” committed against us, she’d basically tell us to shake the dust off our feet and move on.  That bit of her is so ingrained in me that I can’t hold a grudge if I wanted to.

My mom has a fierce, uncompromising faith that is simply inspiring. It is this faith that got her through the most difficult moments of her life and that prays her children through almost unbearable circumstances.

Of course, she’s not perfect–she is human after all–but I’ve not encountered anyone in my life whom I want to emulate more.

Happy Birthday, Mama, with all my love…

 

Planet 50-50: Happy International Women’s Day!

 

IWD 2016 Postcard

“Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day”

The postcard above features the United Nations Women’s theme for International Women’s Day 2016.

According to the UNWomen’s website:

The United Nations observance on 8 March will reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It will equally focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.

For more information, go to the UN Women’s website: UN Women IWD 2016.

Also, if you haven’t seen today’s Google doodle, be sure to check it out.  I L-O-V-E it! You can find out more about the doodle and even some behind the scenes footage here: #onedayiwill.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

 

“Women’s Rights Are Human Rights”

My mailbox has been having so much fun lately and I plan to share with you the goodies that have landed there soon.

Today, I’m dropping by to wish you “Happy International Women’s Day” and to share with you the two postcards I created in support of women’s rights.

United Nations Women's Theme for 2015

United Nations Women’s Theme for 2015

This first card was created for the “Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day” swap in which swappers send yellow flowers in the form of postcards out into the world.  I talked about this in last year’s IWD post.  This year’s postcard features the UN Women’s theme for 2015, which points to building on and speeding up the momentum of the UN’s Fourth Conference on Women 20 years ago (also known as the Beijing conference).  Let’s “picture a world where gender equality is a reality for every woman and girl”  (UN Women).  See UN Women for more information about the theme, Beijing+20 and women’s rights in general.

The second postcard incorporates a quote from Hillary Clinton’s speech at the the Beijing Conference in September 1995.  This statement has been chanted worldwide ever since.

"Women's Rights Are Human Rights"

Hillary R. Clinton: “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights”

Here’s an excerpt from Clinton’s speech:

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.

It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution for human greed — and the kinds of reasons that are used to justify this practice should no longer be tolerated.

It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire, and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.

It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.

It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes by their own relatives.

It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation.

It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.

For the full text (and video) of Clinton’s speech, click here.

I am hopeful that this vision will be realized fully in my lifetime.

“A Little Something Extra”

I’ve desperately needed to do blog posts for the last few months, but I’ve had to face the unfortunate reality that there was neither time nor energy for anything extra. Since I have so much to share, I determined to find a few minutes today to share at least one item that’s made my mailbox and me happy over the last few weeks.

About a month ago, my friend and visual artist, Amy Bryan, posted a collage of her “woman” art on Facebook and I just had to have it.   Amy had postcards of the collage made, sent the link, and I was the first to order the postcards (yay!).

Here’s the postcard!

Amy Bryan, NOLA Artist

Amy Bryan, Visual Artist, New Orleans, Louisiana

Amy collaged a representative sampling of her woman-centered art.  You can get a closer look at many of the individual images featured in the collage on Amy’s website.  I ordered a set (10 postcards), but, in true New Orleans fashion, Amy added a little something extra, or as we New Orleanians say, “lagniappe.” I was over-the-moon excited when I opened the envelope and found not only the postcards I ordered (+3) but this wonderful print:

"Woman Holding Mustard Greens," by Amy Bryan, Visual Artist

“Holding Mustard Greens,” by Amy Bryan, Visual Artist

This piece, destined for framing and placement in my office, was created on the iPad using the Ukiyoe app.  Amy has created stunning pieces of art using this app.  I especially love her Ghana Series.  [Note: The scanner does little justice to this print]

Amy works with various media, as you can probably tell from the collage.  If you’re interested in learning more about her and her artwork, see her website.

Oh–I almost forgot to mention–Amy created a Christmas ornament that was selected for placement on the White House Christmas tree a few years ago.  That was a proud moment! Amy kindly gave me one of the Christmas cards she designed featuring the ornament, but it disappeared shortly after I received it. My best guess is some post-Katrina mice ate it.  They were a little rampant on campus for a little while Post-K.  :-/

 

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day!

I’ve been busy, busy, busy with work and with one creative venture after another–working on a wedding album for my nephew and his new wife, Dr. Seuss’s Birthday (lots of fun), selecting and getting postcards ready for Liberate Your Art 2014, and of course, designing postcards for International Women’s Day (IWD).

In some countries, it is customary to give yellow flowers to women on IWD.  In honor of that custom, I created these postcards–an easier way to share yellow flowers with women of the world and to stand with women worldwide as we move toward change and equality.

The first postcard features the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women’s (UN Women’s) theme for 2014:  “Equality for women is progress for all.”

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I like the vintage feel of this postcard, but I created one using the same photo for those who prefer more realistic colors:

0001wC

And since I also like “Inspiring Change,” the 2014 theme featured on the global hub for International Women’s Day, I created a postcard with that theme as well.

0001VR

As I share these postcards with you, I’m reminded of the two seminars on Comparative Women’s Studies I participated in many moons ago and of how our group applauded our conveners, Beverly Guy Sheftall and Chandra Talpade Mohanty, with the chant– “Women’s rights are human rights…Women’s rights are human rights.”  There’s something about the collective voices of women and those who partner with us that assures me that we will eventually disassemble all tools of oppression.