I Call Her “Too Much”

Too Much

When I crafted the autumn flower above for Sheila D’s 30-Day Creative Gathering (Day 24), I sent it to a friend and told her this one might be a little “too much,” so I decided not to use it. Unwilling to leave her in the heap of “never-to-be-seen-again” photo projects, I worked on her a little more.

I tried to mute her brilliance, but no matter what I did, her radiance seeped out. After looking at all the renditions, I looked at her again, and decided…too much is actually okay. 

So…

This one is for all of you who have ever felt the need to douse your light or mute your shine to make others comfortable. 

This one is for all of you who can tell from the side-eyes, rolled eyes, wide eyes, and blank stares that people just don’t know what to make of you.

This one is for all of you who have been told at one time or another you’re too silly, too loud, too dramatic, too “extra,” too smart, too colorful, too difficult, too much this or too much that.

This one’s for you. 

In spite of all those eyes and all those voices that don’t yet appreciate the grandeur of your extraordinary—your “too much”—keep being you. 

You might as well. There’s absolutely nothing you can do to subdue your light. Besides, the rest of us love you, and for us, your “too much” is actually okay!

We Need Your Magic!

Coneflower Magic by Chandra Lynn

I wrote the piece below during a writing circle on a “bad writing day,” but when my journal fell open to this page this morning, I gave it a second look and decided someone needs to hear this today:

Sometimes your mind can be a little tricky and untrustworthy. A negative thought about your relationship to others and the world enters your head because of this [insert external stimulus] and because of that [insert external situation]. Somehow, that idea gets stuck and develops into the unfounded notion that you’re not wanted, not valued, not needed. 

Listen.to.me.

Please do not allow that errant notion to settle in your mind. Shake.it.out. The world wants, values, and needs every bit of you. Your unique color and light matter. 

You matter, and I don’t want to imagine a world without you—without your light, your spark, your smile, your joy, your spunk, your sass, your wit, your crazy, your magic!

Musings from My Younger Self | What Is a Friend?

Heart Rose wm

Yesterday I found another two folders packed with poems written by younger me. Apparently, at some point in my “teenagedom,” I put together an extensive collection of writings divided in five parts, complete with introductions. I even used Roman numerals. Whew! I might have been more focused as a teenager than I have ever been in my adult life.

Finding even more writing almost makes me want to extend sharing my musings for another week. No worries. I won’t, but I am sharing a poem from one of the folders this evening. 😉

What Is a Friend?
Chandra Lynn (Age: 13)

A friend is someone you can tell
your innermost thoughts to:
someone you can share your secrets and dreams with;
someone you can turn to for comfort
when things aren’t going as you wish;
someone you can trust;
someone who won’t let you down;
someone who’s there even when [s]he isn’t.
someone you admire and find joy in;
some who can give and take criticism;
someone who’ll understand when you face difficult problems;
someone who shares your tears;
someone to love. 

I was surprised to find this poem written shortly after I turned 13—before life got too complicated. Don’t you just love the innocence of youth? 

Musings from My Younger Self | Troubled

Altered Rose-1Warning: Today’s poem is not so bright and cheerful, but I’m sharing it because it demonstrates the range of topics of the poetry of my youth.

Troubled
Chandra Lynn (Age: 15)

Troubled,
the man killed himself–
not physically.
He stopped living.
He fell out of love with himself.
He fell out of love with life.
No one understood him.
No one cared.

He lived in seclusion,
a place of total isolation
and that is where he died.

No one knows the world he lives in
or how to bring him back.
Those who know him–
They know not what to do.
All they want to do is see him,
hear him,
touch him,
love him.

This poem is a little scary for me. I had planned to post it some time ago, but put it on hold because it felt so dark. But, now it feels “prophetic.” Even though I wrote it many, many, many moons ago, I have a beloved mentor who is in a similar situation. He abruptly and inexplicably cut himself off from all who know and love him. All attempts to draw him out have failed. Considering the “life of the party” he usually is–both socially and intellectually–it is painful to imagine him in this state. Prayers, please.

Sunny Blossoms | Sunflowers at Her Grave

“Shine Brightly.” PhotoArt by Diane W.

Some time ago I shared a short sunflower poem written by rupi kaur on the blog. I think of this poem often—whenever I think of my sisters, my friend Julie’s oldest daughter (who was also my student), my pen friend Eileen V’s daughter, and others who passed far too soon.

As I was noting the darkness in my office one stormy morning this week, I mentioned to Julie that I need to transfer my sunflower wall back to my office at work, and she began telling me her special sunflower story.

She planted sunflowers at her daughter’s gravesite. For some time, she tended that garden, a necessary act as she worked through those first shocking moments of grief. The garden grew and grew, as gardens do. Eventually but unsurprisingly, she was told it had to be scaled back (out of respect for other decedents and their families). She was able to chuckle a little when she shared that part, as there has been by this time enough distance between the shattering pain of losing a daughter so young and the present moment.

The image of a gravesite bedecked in sunflowers reminded me of the statement my blogging friend, writer Ellen H, made in a comment on one of my recent posts about grief—

Beauty is both stunning and sad. —Ellen Hawley

There is a cost to beauty, so while I marvel over the amazing grace God showers on mothers who lose their daughters, I am keenly aware that the loss leaves a wound that never heals. As Julie says, “it’s a club to which no mother wants to belong.”

Even so, I thank God for Karlette, Lori, Témar, and Alanna. Though there is sadness, I am in awe of the stunning gifts of their brief but brilliant lives.

despite knowing
they won’t be here for long

they still choose to live

their brightest lives

rupi kaur, “sunflowers,” from the sun and her flowers


About the Image: The sunflower art in this evening’s post comes from a photo-art journal crafted by my swap-bot pal, Diane W (aka midteacher). I shared most of the beautiful journal on the blog a few years ago, with a promise to come back and share four of the images in individual posts. I’ll get to the other three…eventually.

Sunny Blossoms | Miles and Miles of Golden Green

sunflower field from deb t

Miles and miles of golden green
where the sunflowers blow
in a solid glow. –Robert Browning
(from “A Lover’s Quarrel”)

The panorama postcard above was sent to me a couple of years ago (?) by Debbie T, one of my Wildflower friends. It was included in a package of gorgeous floral postcards featuring the work of artist Christopher Arndt, who developed a unique style of photo painting. From the postcard back:

The field of sunflowers blooms on a traditional small family farm in northern Wisconsin with a red barn in the background.

The card is part of his Door County, Wisconsin series. Another postcard from that series is featured in an earlier post. You can find and purchase his art by clicking the link above.

I thought I’d slip in this evening and write something beautiful to match Arndt’s gorgeous field of sunflowers. But, I gave this week all I had to give. I survived and gained a new appreciation for the phrase “Thank God it’s Friday (TGIF). Now, I just want to sit quietly with my thoughts until I succumb to sleep.

Until tomorrow…

Sunny Blossoms | Glow, Baby, Glow

Christine Brooks Sunflower Alcohol Ink

Sunflower by Christine B.

There was little sun in Northern Alabama today, so this alcohol ink sunflower from my friend Christine B brought the brilliance for us—reminding us to shine, glow, and live life to the fullest!

Stop dimming your
light and shine. If you’re
too bright for them, they’ll
find some shade. Shine,
glow and embody your
life to the fullest. –Sylvester McNutt

Shine on!

Sunny Blossoms | Take What You Need

Lori-Anne Courage Sunflower

“Take Courage,” Sunflower Art by Lori-Anne C

If you’ve ever seen my sunflower wall, you know that my friends keep me well-supplied with sunshine. I can’t tell you the number of times my wall of sunny blossoms cheered me and ushered me from a sour mood to an elevated one. As far as I’m concerned, the world can always use a little more sunshine, so I’m sharing the blossoms from my friends with you all week. [And yes, this is part of my effort to blog every day until my blogiversary]. Here’s the good news: If you live in one of the more sunny climes (read: red hot summer), you can enjoy these daily bits of sunshine without the additional heat. 

I am sharing one of the beautiful sunflower creations crafted by my Love Notes/Wildflowers friend, Lori-Anne C. She sent this bit of gorgeousness for International Women’s Day along with the equally gorgeous address book I shared in another post. 

Lori-Anne also included a “take what you need card” with tear outs of some of our most critical needs: courage, appreciation, confidence, patience, inspiration, and flowers.

Take What You Need

When I received Lori’s mail, I was dealing with a lot–grieving over the loss of my father, worrying about my mother, stressing out over my son’s well-being, and navigating a lot of rocky territory. It took courage to face each day and not hide under the cozy comforters on my bed. It took courage to expose my wounds and fight for the healing which seemed a long way off. It felt right seeing that seven-letter word affixed to the card. Courage, more than anything else, is just what I needed.  

What do you need this week?

Seven Favorites from World Watercolor Month | Sunflowers, Of Course!

Watercolor 31-2022 wm

World Watercolor Month 2022, Day 31 (July 31, 2022)

In her devotional thought, which started this morning’s work session, my colleague, Dr. Sherine talked about the growth processes of a seed, reminding us about the possibilities in us and the beauty that comes through struggle. In ending that part of her discussion and driving the point of the metaphor [of a tiny, dry seed breaking to begin a transformed life], she cautioned–

Breaking happens in the right environment. Otherwise, it’s abuse.

Sit with that for a moment.  

Until tomorrow…

Seven Favorites from World Watercolor Month | Rose

Watercolor 1 -2022 wm

World Watercolor Month 2022, Day 1 (July 1, 2022)

The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all. –The Emperor, Mulan

Welcome to August, folks! The madness began for many of us in the academic world today, but that didn’t stop my friend Cy from challenging me to blog every day leading up to my blogiversary—which is in the middle of September. 

I just might be insane because I’m thinking about accepting the challenge. Since I don’t know what obstacles I’ll face, I’m traveling this road with caution.

So, this week, I’m sharing photo art created during World Watercolor Month, a charitable event to support arts education sponsored by Doodlewash. The challenge to create art every day ended yesterday.

Throughout the month of July, I worked 31+ photos into watercolor-like photo art, at least one per day. I enjoyed taking time out from the daily grind and creating something to share with the world. I “upped my game” a bit this year by processing the photos in multiple applications to achieve unique looks. I shared [cropped to a] square versions of each piece on Instagram

This week, I will feature seven [uncropped] personal favorites from the month. With each image, I will share something that struck me during the day–a word, a phrase, a poem, a quote. I hear or read so many beautiful things throughout the day, and I’m looking forward to sharing the tidbits with you!