Cloudy Days and Sunflowers

Alcohol Ink Sunflower, Made by Christine B.

I’ve been receiving sunflower cards all year, and there are many I have yet to share on the blog, so I’ve decided to end NaBloPoMo 2019 with Sunflower Week.

This is the perfect day to begin, since I ended my last Sunflower Week exactly a year ago.

The card above was made by Love Noter Christine B, my most prolific pen friend. She seems to always know when to send a sunflower, when I need a reminder of Light. This one came right at the beginning of the academic year as I was navigating a lot of stuff.

A couple of weeks before receiving Christine’s sunflowers, another pen friend, Eileen V, tagged me in a Facebook post about sunflower behavior on cloudy days. Whereas sunflowers turn toward the sun when it is shining bright, the poster, Jodi H, announced–skeptically–that sunflowers turn toward each other to share their energy when there is no sun.

Jodi went on:

Now, let’s apply this reflection to our lives. Many people become low-spirited, and the most vulnerable ones, sometimes become depressed. How about following the example of the beautiful sunflowers, i.e., supporting and empowering each other.

This is a beautiful thought and it creates a moving image, but it is not accurate. Sunflowers do not turn toward each other on cloudy days. Instead, they face the direction of the sun regardless.

See these “sciencey” articles for more information:

There is truth in the idea that we don’t have to walk through dark moments alone. We can turn to our loved ones and friends for energy and light when we face difficulties. And we can be sure to make ourselves available to help others as they go through their own challenges.

Whenever I receive a sunflower, it serves as a reminder to “face the Sun.” It is also a gift, an offering of strength and light.

Sunflower Humans: If I Were a Flower

If I were a flower..I would be a sunflower.

Pam Stewart

My penfriends have been showering me with sunny blooms and sending beautiful reminders to “face the sun,” so my sunflower wall is growing beautifully wild. I’ll have to share an updated photo soon. Until then, I’ll continue to share the individual postcards on the blog.

About a week ago, I received a postcard from Geraldine (Nannydino on swap-bot) that offers a unique interpretation on the sunflower theme. Instead of growing in a field or sitting in a vase, the sunflowers appear to be growing out of a human.

“Sunflower Humans” by Priyanka Parul

Pretty interesting. Right?

“Sunflower Humans” is the work of Priyanka Parul, a young artist from Mumbai, India. I love how the human face is replaced with or masked by sunflowers. Are they human? Are the sunflowers a gift? Symbolic of a sunny disposition? A reminder to “radiate sunshine” from the inside out?  I’d love to know what Priyanka was thinking when she conceived this piece.

In my search for information on the piece, I ran across a post written in 2016, “Are You a Human or a Sunflower.” There are some conceptual similarities, so I wonder if the artist was inspired by the post.

I hope you have your shades nearby. You’ll need them for our final week of sunflower posts for the year.

May you have a week filled with sunshine and good things.

The Sunflower Myth

Sunflower Edit

The heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look that she turned when he rose. –Sir Thomas Moore

I read several versions of “the sunflower myth” a few days ago, and I can’t say any of them are pleasing. The story generally follows the plot below:

Clytie, was a water nymph. She was the daughter of the Titans, Oceanus and Tethys. She was the lover of the sun god Helios, who eventually deserted her to pursue Leucothea, the daughter of Orchamus. Clytie was enraged and told Orchamus about the love affair. He sentenced his daughter to death by burying her alive. Clytie thought that the death of Leucothea would make Helios return to her, but it only made him think less of her. In the end, Clytie lay naked for nine days on the rocks, gazing at the sun when he rose and as  he passed through his daily course to his setting. Her tears and the chilly morning dew were her only food. On the ninth day, her limbs rooted to the ground, and she was transformed into a flower, the heliotrope or turnsole [sunflower], which turns towards the direction of the sun.  –from Greek Mythology

Like the Disney princess stories, which either vilify or victimize women, this story bothers me for many reasons: the rivalry between women over a “man;” an overprotective and abusive father; a daughter’s punishment [in this case, murder] for disobedience(?); the scorn of a former lover.

The contradiction between the cheerfulness of the sunflower and the misery and rejection that birthed it in this story is troubling, to say the least. What bothers me most, though, is the romanticization of pain that sends the message that there is beauty in mutilating oneself or pining away for love.

I’ll spare you the full rant and focus on the sunflower’s devotion to the sun as described in the lines (above) from Moore’s poem–without the backstory.

Note on the image: The photo sunflower above comes from a “suburban sunflower field” growing inside my favorite grocery store (also known as potted sunflowers for sale). 🙂 I captured the sunny blossoms last summer. How could I resist their happy greeting? I isolated the central flower and post-processed it using 3 different apps. The original image is below.

Until tomorrow…

The Sunflowers Told Me…

We had a slight disruption in our sunflower posts due to end-of-the-semester busyness and exhaustion.  I crashed seconds after arriving home last night.  We’ll make up for it by adding a “sunflower” day next week.  Actually, I have enough sunflower material to blog about them for a month! No worries. I won’t.

Five minutes after entering my office yesterday (for no obvious reason) I ended up in a weird head space that made it difficult to concentrate on anything that looked and felt like work. I took a moment with my sunflower wall, carefully studying each image and thinking fondly about how each came to me.

The sunflowers, filled with reminders to be good and kind to myself, gave me permission to slow down the crazy pace at which I’d been working for several weeks straight and pause, even if just for a moment.

My sunflower wall grew tremendously as a result of International Women’s Day 2018. My Love Notes friends filled my mailbox with sunflower after sunflower, and though I’ll share the other yellow flowers I received eventually, today, we walk through a sunflower field together. [Click an image for a closer look].

 

The postcards came from Love Noters–Christine, Eileen, Connie, Arielle, Litsa, Peg, and Gina. I received two more that aren’t pictured here; they’re “earmarked” for two other posts.

I “installed” the sunflower wall in front of my primary “work station” one afternoon when I was “fed up” with the dreariness of winter. I needed the sun! Thanks to my Love Notes friends, the sun shines even brighter in my office.

I hope your weekend is filled with light, love, and lots of pauses.

Because I Love Sunflowers…

Love Notes participants are a creative bunch, and I always feel the love when someone crafts a card especially for me. That is exactly what Lori K did for the Love Notes 21, Prompt 2. After reading about my ❤ for sunflowers, she created a gorgeous autumn-themed sunflower card for me. Double love!

“Autumn Sunflower,” Card made by Lori K.

Lori sent the card with a long, newsy letter that ended with her response to the prompt, “Your history….”

Your history is what makes you who you are. The things you have gone through, both the good and the bad, have taught you how to be the caring and loving person you are. Enjoy each day and make more of your unique history.

Can we talk about how much this sunflower is saving my sanity?

The last five or six weeks have been challenging for my family. My dad has been in and out of the hospital. Worrying, waiting for news, and trying to figure out what’s going on has been emotionally taxing. He’s back in the hospital today, so this sunflower is a beautiful and much needed reminder to turn my face heavenward and trust that God’s “got this.”

Sunflowers normally find a place on the walls of my home and work offices, but I placed this one in my planner because I need to see it each time I open the planner throughout week.

Over the years, my friends–“in real life” and pen friends–have given me many, many sunflower notecards, postcards, drawings, watercolors, paintings, and photos. I’m grateful for the sunflowers, the beautiful messages all around me, prompting me to dwell in the light and stand tall and strong in the face of adversity.

Thank you, Lori. Your sunflower came at the right moment!