Love Means…

“Love” by Robert Indiana, 6th Avenue at 55th Street, New York City. Photo by Jennifer Howland Hill.

“Love” is likely the most difficult word to define. We talk about what it means, but definitions fail to hit the mark. Since it finds meaning in action and in character, we describe love more than we define it.

“Love means” was the final prompt for Love Notes 27. Peggy, again, did not disappoint as she shared a poem which demonstrates the evolving meaning(s) of love as she travels the decades.

Love Means
By Peggy L.

At the age of 10
Love means my mama’s smile and a hug.

At the age of 20
Love means bodies tangled in the sheets.

At the age of 30
Love means walking my sweet daughter to class before heading to work.

At the age of 40
Love means letting my baby find her own life, away from me.

At the age of 50
Love means discovering myself and learning to paint.

At the age of 60
Love means…

I’ll let you know.

I love how the poem touches on parental love, romantic love, self-love, and the “unknowns” of love.

As for my part, exhausted and with a mile-long to-do list I couldn’t  even attempt. I went to the Source of Love and sent my partner 1 Corinthians 13:4-8–but again, that describes rather than defines love, and there are more negatives than positives in the description.

According to 1 John 4:8. God is love. Love, therefore, is as complex and multifaceted as God. Perhaps, this is what makes it difficult to define.

If you missed Peggy’s responses to LN 27 Prompt 1 and Prompt 2, be sure click the previous link–twice!


About the imageThe postcard above was sent to me by my friend Cy after a trip to New York last summer.

From the postcard back: The artist, Robert Indiana, settled in New York City in 1954 and began making pop art. His most famous work, Love, was originally designed as a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1964. The image quickly became a symbol of peace at a time when the country had become involved in the Viet Nam War. The 12-foot sculpture was installed at the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street in 1971, two blocks from MoMA. It has become one of the most photographed icons in New York City. Every day thousands of couples visit the sculpture and awkwardly ask a stranger to take their photograph.

Happy Weekend!

Children’s Art | Busy Being Roses

…as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.
Mary Oliver, “Roses,” from Felicity

Today was supposed to be easy–a “chill” day of finishing up a few projects and meeting with my students. It turned into a crazy-busy day, so I am all too happy to take a break and contemplate the pretty–and I have kid art to share!

Every spring, my son’s school hosts an amazing art fair, featuring the work of practically every student in the school. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably know that I absolutely lose my mind walking the halls and taking in the colorful spectacle. I have hundreds of pictures from each art fair. I wish I could share every piece on the blog, but there’s so much that I’d have to start a separate blog dedicated to children’s art–and it would take me at least three years to catch up! Of course, that is not a bad idea, but I’ll leave that task for others.

Since I am still “speaking in flowers,” I’m excited to share a sampling of the vases of roses on display at the art show held a couple of weeks ago.

There were several other vases full of flowers, but they were positioned low on the wall and I was not willing to contort my body to get the shots. 😀

The project is called “Primary Petals,” for which students created a vase full of flowers using water color, oil pastels, and markers. Through the activity, “the students learned about color families, explored new mediums, and focused on line quality by drawing spirals” [Description posted with artwork].

Based on the description of the project, I’m assuming the art is that of Mrs. Johnson’s students. [She was my son’s fourth grade teacher and her art projects are always sensational].

As I have been working through life’s challenges, I have been asking a lot of questions. The answers aren’t always immediate or acceptable, so it’s nice to put the challenges on hold and take a moment to enjoy the innocence and simplicity of children’s art. It’s good–every now and then–to just be, to learn from the roses.

“Roses” by Mary Oliver

Everyone now and again wonders about
those questions that have no ready
answer: first cause, God’s existence,
what happens when the curtain goes
down and nothing stops it, not kissing
not going to the mall, not the Super
Bowl.

“Wild roses,” I said to them one morning.
“Do you have the answers? And if you do,
would you tell me?”

The roses laughed softly. “Forgive us,”
they said. “But as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.”

Speaking in Flowers: In Front of a Window

“Wallwurz und kleine rosa Nelken vor Fenster,” 1935. Gabriele Münter [Wallroot and small pink carnations in front of window]

The postcard above, which features the work of German expressionist painter Gabriele Münter, was one of the first I received for International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month. It came from my Love Notes friend, Eileen V.

In honor of our sharing flowers with other women throughout the world, Eileen added another “flower.” She affixed to the message side of the postcard the story of the Greek goddess, Iris:

Since Iris is the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love, her sacred flower is considered the symbol of communication and messages. Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty it was to take the souls of women to the Elysian fields. — Hana No Monogatari, from The Story of Flowers

2019 has been brutal thus far, and I’ve lacked the intellectual energy to give words to my feelings and experiences. Flowers have been easier, so taking a cue from nayirrah waheed, I’ll be “speaking in flowers” for much of the next few weeks. I’ll mix things up a bit and try not to bore you. 😉


Speaking of Love Notes, the deadline to sign up for the next round is in a few days. If you love receiving snail mail and want to be part of a wonderful community of creative mail-loving souls, click the link.

Sneak Peek: An Inspiring Arrangement

March is over, but I still have a stimulating bunch of woman-centered art/words/postcards to share!

Here’s a sneak peek at most of the yellow and purple flower postcards I received for Women’s History Month. I’ll be sharing them on the blog throughout the next month or two (or three) because they deserve a closer look.

Speaking of [purple] flowers, look at the lovely tulip done by my friend Holly over at ThreeSixFiveArt. Holly was inspired by the purple tulips in my latest #WordlessWednesday post. She did a fantastic job! Stroll over to her blog to read about her process. [Click image below].

Purple Tulip. Watercolor by Holly M.

April is an insane month for those of us in higher education, so I’ll either blog less (because of time constraints) or more (because of self-imposed “time outs”).

I hope your week is filled with sunshine and flowers!

Women | Words and Art III

We’ve reached the final post of our women’s words and art series. Today’s postcards are just as empowering and inspiring as the previous posts.

Artist: Cyla Costa

Talking back to the ideology that a woman’s place is in the kitchen or bedroom, this art speaks volumes:

A woman’s place is in the resistance.

I “designed” my own postcard featuring Hillary Clinton’s “famous” phrase a few years ago:

Women’s rights are human rights.  –Hilary Clinton, from her speech at the United Nations Fourth Conference on Women, Beijing China

And from [my forever] First Lady of the United States, the timeless instruction our mothers instilled in us when we were children–to never, ever stoop to “their” level:

When they go low, we go high.  –Michelle Obama, Democratic National Convention, 2016

Artist: Cyla Costa

Reinterpreting Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer,” Angela Davis‘ oft-repeated declaration is another call to become agents of change.

I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept. –Angela Davis

Even though I want more, more, more revolutionary art, Davis’s quote provides an apt ending. After all, women’s issues can’t be resolved with pretty words and lettering. We’ve got to get up and do something too!

Some of us are traditional activists. We don’t mind taking to the streets and marching or sitting in. Some use writing–letters, poems, opinion pieces, books. Some use art. Some use social media and phone calls. Some choose to approach change through the way we rear our sons and daughters. It all works–as long as the goal is to cultivate a world that does not stifle or limit women’s and girls’ rights, full participation or agency.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, be sure to check them out. Then…

Let’s get to work!

Women | Words and Art II

As promised, I’m back today with more art from “The Future Is Female” package. Are you ready to be empowered?

Nevertheless, she persisted.

In his explanation of Elizabeth Warren’s “silencing” during her “lengthy speech” criticizing [then] Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, Senator Mitch McConnell declared, “She was warned. She was given an explanation.  Nevertheless, she persisted.” Like “nasty woman,” the final sentence became a rallying call and was appropriated by women in a move to dismantle male-centric politics and policies.

Artist: Cyla Costa

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we raise them. May we be them.

Artist: Daiana Ruiz

Why one writes is a question I can answer easily, having so often asked it of myself. I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.  –Anais Nin, Dairy, February 1954

Artist: Bodil Jane

When no one speaks and the whole world is silent, then even one voice becomes powerful.  –Malala Yousafzai, on acceptance of Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award at Harvard University, 2013

If you missed the first post, be sure to take a look at the four art/quote pieces there. The final four will be in my next post. You’ll need it to complete your full dosage of woman-power. 😉

Women | Words and Art I

Did you see the Google Doodle on International Women’s Day? The doodle featured a collection of inspiring quotes by women beautifully illustrated by [other] women. It’s a pretty impressive collection, and I want the prints!

Fortunately, my bestie–from now on referred to as “the prophet”–anticipated this and sent me a beautiful collection of 12 woman-centered postcards. I finally took time to scan them, so I decided to share them on the blog in three installments.

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained. Nor is anyone of you. –Audre Lorde, “The Uses of Anger,” National Women’s Studies Association Conference, 1981

Artist: Daiana Ruiz

Many of us recall when #45 described his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as a nasty woman. He intended it as an insult, but his remark–steeped in misogyny–invited a world of women to “stay nasty.”

The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving. –Gloria Steinem

I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you.  –Janet Mock, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

The postcards are part of The Future Is Female, a 2019 calendar package published by Workman Publishing. The calendar is a rallying call to women–inspiring “a year of activism, unity, and sisterhood.” A portion of the proceeds from the calendar sales will be donated to Girls Write Now, a nonprofit organization “that mentors underserved young women and helps them find their voices through the power of writing and community.”

I hope you’re inspired by the words and art.

Stay tuned. I plan to write posts featuring the remaining eight postcards some time this week.

March on…