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.

Are You Happy with Your Story?*

“Story Girl” by Connie S.

I received the most adorable tag this weekend! It came from my penfriend Connie S. I sort of coveted the tag when I saw it in a Facebook photo among several tags she crafted a few weeks ago for a “Little Wings and Tim Holtz” challenge on swap-bot. This one was an extra, so she sent it as a gift as I “get back into teaching mode.” Happy dance!

Connie wrote a note on pretty floral stationery and ended with the question–“Are you happy with your story?”

On this rainy, bluesy Monday when the headaches are unrelenting, it’s difficult to answer when my mood and pain are trying to do the typing.

Interestingly, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about “my story”–the narrative of my life that shapes who I am, my path, and who I am becoming. Particularly, I’ve noticed  just how often other people insist on writing my story or are set on what they think I should do and be; I’ve also taken note of just how often what they think I should do, think, and be benefits them in some way.

Though sometimes [most times, maybe?] individuals are actually advocating for us, I realize if we’re just going along and not paying attention, we can make it easy for someone else to write or rewrite our story. Therefore, we must be intentional about guarding our own developing script.

My life isn’t perfect–it’s certainly “been no crystal stair,” but those ups and downs and all arounds have developed in me a deep sense of empathy and compassion. The questions yet unanswered have taught me to love the questions and either seek the answers with an open heart and mind or patiently wait through the process. I’m learning still that sometimes the answers will come on “the other side of glory.” In my weakest moments, through Christ I’ve found strength–grace sufficient–to overcome the seemingly insurmountable.

I have an amazing family, the best friends, and good energy in my most important spaces. When I count my blessings, they far outnumber my setbacks and disappointments. Even in my most dejected state or my hour of most profound need, my gratitude deepens and widens over the blessed life God has given me and over His indescribable, incomparable love for me.

Am I happy with my story? Yes indeed. I’m not sure I’d know how to behave with a different story.

Are you happy with your story?


*My apologies to those of you who received a draft of this post via email or in your reader. Somehow the WordPress bot decided to publish before I hit the publish button. 

Let It Snow!

“Let It Snow,” Photo by Diane W (midteacher)

My students are tired; my colleagues are tired; and I am certainly tired. I can’t figure out why we’re all so exhausted less than three weeks into spring semester, but we are and we need a little break.

After a preview of this week’s weather, my son and I started praying for a snow day Friday–literally. Today, I enlisted the students and a couple of my colleagues.

In preparation for the “inclement weather” announcement that was sure to come, I stopped by Publix for “essential” snow day supplies. As I shopped, I was heartened by the bubbly energy of other teachers and professors exchanging quiet “hallelujahs” for the unplanned day off. Finally, moments after arriving home, the announcement came: “Classes cancelled.” I heard the collective shout of the students 15 miles away.

In anticipation of snow, I’m sharing some wintry mail from Michigan for this Microblog Monday.

I received the elegant winter-themed envelope from Diane W. (midteacher on swap-bot) a week or so ago; it remained unopened for days because I didn’t want to disturb the pretty.

Don’t you agree?

Here’s a closer look at some of the details:

Diane even “fancied up” the back:

There were about 10 photos tucked inside the pockets of the handmade envelope and a letter detailing the experience of her last photo walk of 2018.

With a piping hot mug of tea (posed above) Diane braved the cold and snapped photos of her “garden in its winter coat with fallen leaves still scattered from the old oak tree guarding the garden.”

I love every photo she included in the envelope, but, in addition to the mug, here are my favorites.

A snow-cushioned chair that invited her to “sit for a spell” [she declined]:

“Snow Covered Chair,” Photo by Diane W. [midteacher]

Leaves “still hanging on the raspberry bushes curled with a hint of green in the centers.” They look [to me] like two birds having a conversation. Diane enclosed the color and black and white versions of the photo. I have a thing for black and white, so…

“Birds Talking,” Photo by Diane W. [midteacher]

Dried globe thistle “donning caps of snow crystals.”

“Snow-capped Thistles,” Photo by Diane W. [midteacher]

I know snow days are not simply fun and games for everyone, so though I am looking forward to a needed day to rest and get caught up on a few things (perhaps?), my thoughts and prayers are also with those who will have to deal with the worst of the storm.

Stay dry. Stay warm. Stay safe.

12 Days of Christmas Postcards | Day 9

My Love Notes friend Andrea F stitched this pretty in pink pocket card in honor of my sister, Lori, but I received it in honor of both my sisters–Karlette and Lori–whom we lost to breast cancer. When I opened the envelope I thought of them immediately: Karlette’s love for pink and their mutual love for Christmas and pretty things.

If you’re used to seeing Christmas in only traditional ways, you might think the gently falling snowflakes that dominate the card are simply asterisks on a pink background. It is not until you open the card that you see…

…Christmas joy, a home overflowing with warmth and love, and a golden star-topped tree.

Add a bit of pink to your Christmas joy!

12 Days of Christmas Postcards | Day 5

The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things. –Thomas S. Monson

I’m back today with another crafted Christmas tree postcard. This one is from Diane W (midteacher on swap-bot), whose 2017 postcard is featured in my Christmas Day post. Diane is my inspiration for mixed media photo creations, and now she’s given me a technique to try with card-making without photos.

Here’s her creation process:

  • Adhere scrapbook paper to 5×7 Watercolor paper
  • Spray a piece of brown craft paper with water; wad up into a ball
  • Carefully unwad and mist with Perfect Pearls Mist spray in Perfect Pearl
  • Allow to dry; iron flat
  • Cut to size and glue over scrapbook paper
  • Emboss the edges of the postcard
  • Create the tree by cutting a copy of Christmas music.
  • Adhere ribbon
  • Glue tree onto postcard
  • Add a piece of burlap ribbon for the trunk
  • Add Tim Holtz Christmas phrases

I love this card, especially the crinkled craft paper and the embossed edges. Since there are so few elements, I can make this project with leftovers from other projects. I have a drawer full of scraps that are too beautiful to toss!

I won’t put you through the agony of my imitation of Diane’s tree, like I did yesterday with Martha’s, but I think I’ll attempt this technique to make cards for some birthdays that are coming up in January.

Thanks, Diane for the quote, the card, and the lesson. Thanks, too, for showering me with beauty all year long and for sharing your techniques with me.

12 Days of Christmas Postcards | Day 1

The happiest moments my heart knows are those in which it is pouring forth its affections to a few esteemed characters.
Thomas Jefferson

My pen friends make such gorgeous holiday postcards that I’ve decided to share one postcard per day for the 12 days of Christmas. From now to January 5, look for a daily post featuring a card from one of my many talented friends.

Today’s postcard was crafted by Diane (midteacher on swap-bot). This card has been “on hold” since last Christmas, and with its traditional holiday colors, it’s the perfect place to start.

I hope that you take time today to “pour forth affections” to the loved ones in your life.

Wishing you and yours a warm and beautiful Christmas!

Winter Is Good!

“Happy Winter.” Handmade card by Lori K.

Winter is good – his Hoar Delights
Italic flavor yield –
To Intellects inebriate
With Summer, or the World –

Generic as a Quarry
And hearty – as a Rose –
Invited with asperity
But welcome when he goes.

Emily Dickinson, Poem 1316

It’s no secret–I do not like winter. The cold, dreary days do little for my mood and force me to spend far too many days and nights indoors. It doesn’t help at all that winter immediately follows autumn, my favorite season.

It’s odd, I know, to begin a “Happy Winter” post with reasons I don’t like the season, but there are some things I love about winter–the nakedness of trees, a warm cup of cocoa, cozy nights in front of the fireplace, hope for “snow days,” and winter photo walks [when the temperatures ease a bit]. Besides, there’s poetry in winter’s dormancy as the earth is repairing and preparing for spring.

In short, my feelings about winter are much like the attitude toward winter described in Dickinson’s poem–I’m capable of extolling it’s virtues, but I’ll be happier when it’s gone.

Happy Winter? 😉


Love Noter Lori K made and sent the card above to me last winter. I’ve been looking forward to sharing it since I happily received it. Its glittery wintriness is much prettier “in person.”

Seriously though–Happy Winter!