Weekend Joy and the Clinton Row Colorwalk

A smile relieves a heart that grieves. Remember what I said. –The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

So far this long weekend has been exactly what I needed. When I left work Thursday, I’d planned to take the four-day weekend seriously re: self-care and joy breaks. I had some “unfinished business,” so I worked till noon Friday and I haven’t thought about work since then.

I have been just as serious about my 10 days of joy.

Yesterday, I held my first full “brain dump” session in a long time and ended up with a three-page list of all the things that have been nipping at my soul. Now, I know that doesn’t sound very “joyful.” And it isn’t. In fact, without context, the list is sad, stressful, anxious, but the JOY is in how I felt after writing the list! I have been carrying too much stuff internally, and when I don’t deal with it or even take a moment to acknowledge it, all that soul-gunk spills out in not-so-nice ways. So…taking an hour or so Sunday morning to detoxify my soul was beneficial in many ways.

I’m not sure I would have been able to even approach that list if the guys and I hadn’t taken time out for creativity Saturday afternoon. We grabbed our cameras, headed downtown, donned our masks, and took a two-hour photo walk. The weather was perfect—cloudy, cool, and breezy.

I noted the typical street scenes—musicians playing, private conversations, storefronts, architecture, diners—but, because I am nearly obsessed with street art, the Clinton Row Colorwalk was my favorite joy moment of the walk!

The Clinton Row Colorwalk is an alley filled with murals painted by Huntsville (Alabama) artists.

Mick Jagger with Frame

Needless to say, every single piece of work thrilled me, but the quote written along the frame of the Mick Jagger portrait transformed the art into a powerful statement:

I pray that looking beyond this day we can all work together to overcome the hatred and division and start to heal the pain and suffering that everybody is feeling in this country.

Here’s a collage of “sneak peaks” of some the other pieces:

To see the full pieces, see my Flickr album here > Clinton Row Colorwalk Album and for more information about the art and some of the artists’ processes, check out the Facebook page here > Clinton Row Colorwalk Community.

What is today’s joy break? I’ll be spending time with family safely celebrating my baby cousin’s kindergarten graduation!

Joy all around!

Love of Freedom

In every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance.

–18th century poet, Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), in a letter to Native American ordained Presbyterian minister, Samson Occom (1723-1792)


About the Image: The gorgeous portrait of Phillis Wheatley is the work of artist Erin K. Robinson. It is part of a beautiful collection of postcards, Brave. Black. First. Celebrating 50 African American Women Who Changed the World, published by Clarkson/Potter Publisher, an imprint of Penguin Random House in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. I received the collection as a gift from my hubby. Thankfully, the box includes two sets of the postcards–I send 50 out into the world and keep 50 for myself! 😉

Blowing Kisses: Sculpting with Tyhara Rain

“Blowing Kisses.” Sculpture by Tyhara Rain, 2019

I thought I’d treat you today to the art vlog of my student, Tyhara Rain, talking about one of her latest art projects. I really, really, really love her interpretation of “Blowing Kisses.” It was a commissioned work, but the person decided not to purchase it because the price–though more than fair–was higher than expected.

The finished product is above, but here’s Ty talking all about the process.

You’ve seen Tyhara’s sculptures on Pics and Posts before: Sunflower Story: The Sacred Joy of Creating and A Written Word: A Small Thing. I hope she inspires you to create something this weekend.

Wild Roses and a Moment of Sweetness

“Eglantine,” from an original mouth-painted by D. Legrix. Published by the Association of Handicapped Artists.

I had a sweet moment today while looking for a particular postcard to blog today. Mixed in with the snail mail and art projects [in various stages] that consume my craft desk was a card from Aunt Sac [short for Sacramento], one of my great aunts, written way back in 1992.  Aunt Sac was very fond of me and I of her. [I was her favorite, but shhh…don’t tell].

In the note, she mentioned speaking briefly with my sister Lori and my [late] Aunt Joy’s failing health, emphasizing her complete trust in God. She joked about her age, commented on not seeing my mom lately, and encouraged me to “keep working hard and praying much.”  She closed the letter with the familiar phrase, “Love you,” our reminder that we’re okay even if all isn’t right in the world.

Aunt Sac is no longer with us, but she still holds a special place in my heart. I pulled the card from my box of old letters earlier this year [for some reason?]; it was nice to run across it again this rainy Thursday. There’s so much history and sweetness in old letters.


About the Image: I was also intrigued by the card. I’m sure I paid little attention to the artwork in my youth, but I am pleased to [now] learn about Denise Legrix (1910-2010), a French writer and artist who painted by mouth. The artwork, entitled “Eglantine,” was produced from an original and  published by the Association of Handicapped Artists, Inc., which is no longer active. I think the work of that organization was picked up by the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists association. Eglantine [sweetbrier] is a type of wild rose. The scan does little justice to the luxurious card, which has the look and feel of an original painting.

Until tomorrow…

Woman | #WordlessWednesday

Ann Gardner, “Breathing,” 1996. Sand cast glass, silver leaf.

Where there is a woman there is magic. If there is a moon falling from her mouth, she is a woman who knows her magic, who can share or not share her powers. A woman with a moon falling from her mouth, roses between her legs and tiaras of Spanish moss, this woman is a consort of the spirits.  –Ntozake Shange, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo


About the image: Today’s image features the artwork of sculptor Ann Gardner. The piece, entitled “Breathing,” is part of the American Studio Glass collection, on continuous view at the Huntsville Museum of Art. The sculpture is so fierce and feminine that I couldn’t resist pairing it with Shange’s words.

Acquainted with the Night: A Painting and a Poem

“A Yorkshire Lane in November 1873,” by John Atkinson Grimshaw

#ThursdayTreeLove | Recollections

Recollections, Watercolor by Wanda A

It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees. –Wilson Flagg

I realize the image above isn’t a “real” tree, but this tree is special to me. Wanda, my sophomore year college roommate and brilliant art major, painted and gave the tree to me as a gift at some point before we parted ways–she to an art school in New York, me to an internship in Maryland.

The inspiration for this watercolor was a young tree that grew outside of our first floor dorm room. We often sat in our room with the window open and gazed at this tree. When alone, we contemplated and meditated. When together, we people-watched and discussed the trials and triumphs of life and love with our favorite tree always in view.

I looked for the tree almost seven years ago when I first returned to the campus as a professor; unfortunately, it is no longer there. I don’t even have a photograph, so I’m grateful my roomie and friend immortalized the tree through her artwork.

Wanda informed me that her daughter [corrected] is headed to our alma mater this fall [gasp]! Hopefully, she’ll find a special tree and much that is cheerful and delightful.


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

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…