Afraid of Nothing

“Girl Bandz” by Céleste Wallaert

I am deliberate
and afraid
of nothing.

–Audre Lorde, last lines of poem “New Year’s Day” from A Land Where Other People Live


About the Image: The postcard above was sent to me by my literary twin and Love Notes pal, Bianca. She always sends the perfect cards with notes written in her impeccable handwriting, embellished with cute or sophisticated washi tape and stickers. The card features the artwork of illustrator and graphic artist, Céleste Wallaert. You can find out about the artist and see more of her work by following the link. The women’s stance exude Audre Lorde’s words, “I am deliberate/and afraid/of nothing.”

About Love Notes: Speaking of Love Notes, the final round for this year begins October 11th. You need a happy mail distraction to counteract all the madness we’re experiencing, so click the link and get signed up today: Love Notes.

A Boxful of Pooh!

Pooh and friends on the bridge watching as Eeyore floating beneath. Artwork by Susan Alena.

Way back in February—it seems eons ago, right?—I went to my mailbox a few times to find Winnie-the-Pooh goodies. There were envelopes filled with stickers, letters, postcards, tags, bookmarks, and even earrings. I was über busy when most arrived, so I oohed and ahhed over them for a moment and placed them back in their envelopes to enjoy later.

Later came today.

Pooh makes a great themed mail package–as the not one, two, or even three, but the four Pooh packages I received prove.

First came the envelope from Tess E (Vontak on swap-bot) filled with Baby Pooh stickers, washi tape, and note paper.

Aren’t they cute?! I am using these to send letters to a few baby nieces this week. I was supposed to write these letters weeks ago, but life really gets in the way of the fun stuff.

Then, a gorgeous Red Bubble envelope arrived with four Pooh postcards from Geraldine J (NannyDino on swap-bot). [Click an image to view larger]

I thought that was the swap, but a week or two later I received a fun package of even more Pooh goodies from Geraldine. [Click an image to view larger]

The handmade storybook envelope was packed with a Pooh birthday card, homemade stickers, and miniature classic Pooh book covers for crafting–all enclosed in a red polka dot envelope bedecked with Canadian Pooh postage. That’s a wonderful load of Pooh!

Then, surprise! My swap-bot-“Cup and Chaucer”-artist-blogging friend, Holly M sent a handmade tag and card “just because.”

Holly has the neatest Pooh supplies. Check out the stamps and the hand-lettering. Her stamping skills almost inspire me to pull out my rarely [and/or never] used stamps and put them to use. Almost. I really don’t like the cleanup part.

I recall Holly was kind enough to send some adorable Pooh mail a couple of years ago: Holly Art!

Finally, Susan Alena (postmansdaughter on swap-bot) sent a package that floored me.  All of it:

The hand-drawn art on the envelope.

The shrinky dink bookmark…

and earrings.

The watercolor that leads this post? Also, created by Susan.

If you ever wondered how much Pooh-love can be packed into an envelope, now you know. A whole lot.

Each sender gave her envelope so much time and attention. I know some people see it as “only mail,” but the mail often tells a story about the person’s heart. And–I do not take for granted how incredibly blessed I am to interact with so many beautiful people.

Letter from Lu! | Snail Mail Quick Tip

Squeals!!!

I received a “letter” from my little great-niece Lu [my niece Tiffany’s daughter]. Isn’t it adorable? I know you don’t understand the special language she used to write her letter, but trust me. It is full of ❤ for her favorite [great] aunt–me, of course! She even used my favorite colors!!!

Thank you for sharing your spectacular work, Lu!

Lu is the adorable baby in this post and this post. She’s now a whole two years old, grown enough to make art and send mail!

We’ll be spending a lot of time indoors over the next few weeks, and kids will probably be making art almost daily–drawings, sketches, paintings, crafts, and more. If you’re like me, you already have an entire museum of your kid’s art in albums, on the walls, in piles on your desk, and in a sealed bin beneath the art table. 😀  Do you really want the task of finding ways to display or store weeks more of artwork?

Of course not!

Lu’s special letter prompted me to offer another snail mail quick tip: Art in the mail!

Sending art mail is a cute way to dispose of  share some of the precious art your kids make. Simply place those one-of-a-kind masterpieces in an envelope and send them to grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, friends, and/or the kind senior citizen who has a soft spot for your family. This will not only let them know you’re thinking about them but will also provide a bit of  sunshine while we’re all sort of “stuck.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I send and receive a lot of art mail. So–even if you don’t have children, you can send your own art.

It is so easy, but yields so much joy!

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. 

Art Mail and Watercolor Therapy

As I mentioned a month or so ago, I’ve been “doing art” to combat some of life’s stressors. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I’ve been able to pull off. In fact, one of my friends loved my doodles and drawings so much that she chose one as her new logo. Wow–right?

Thanks to artist and blogger Deb Breton, I’ve now added watercolor to my daily art therapy sessions. She sent an art mail package that contained a set of 12 watercolor pencils, a 9×12 watercolor pad, and a print featuring “Birds on a Wire,” one of her first watercolors. Squeal!

I played with the pencils all weekend, familiarizing myself with the medium. I prefer a smaller canvas, so I cut the paper down to 4×6 and experimented with the watercolor pencils, ink, and regular colored pencils. Here’s a sampling of my weekend fun.

Trying out the pencils.

My first not so great background–which I tried to redeem with a doodled flower and a “feel good” quote.

A better background. I have plans to add a poem and doodles or a photo.

My third attempt at flowers. Same quote.

The “paintings” actually look better “in real life,” but they’re still far from perfect. Of course, perfection is not the point. In fact, it’s freeing to have less expectations, so I can continue to experiment and have fun without the pressure.

Before you go, be sure to click one of the links above and check out Deb’s “Birds on a Wire” and her other work. I’m always inspired by her creativity!

Thank you, Deb, for making my life a little more artful!

Bunny Dance [and Rabbit Names]

Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair.  –Susan Polis Shultz

Easter was yesterday, but this super-cute bunny wants to dance today too! My Love Notes friend Bianca sent her along with Easter greetings. She’s perfect for a Microblog Monday.

“Bunny mail” is always special to me. “Bunny” is my pet name for one of my favorite people and I have a few friends who [still] call me “Rabbit.”

My being “named” such is a result of my penchant for hyphenating almost everyone’s names with cute/fuzzy animal names–as in, Kesia-Pup, Cy-Bear, Mama-Duck. I started doing this in junior high school. By the time I graduated from college, rabbit was the most popular animal, so a few friends made that one of my nicknames. Of course, I don’t mind because well…rabbits!

With a few exceptions, I’ve pretty much kicked this particular naming habit. Pretty much. Maybe. Not really. 😀

May you find a reason to dance this week. Scratch that. May you “dance in the sun with wildflowers in your hair”–especially if there’s no reason!

Autumn: Brilliant Leaves, Happy Mail, and Seven Reasons Why

Last week the temperatures finally dipped into the 50’s and this morning we woke up to 30’s and a freeze warning. I am excited that autumn has finally made an appearance–in terms of temperature at least. [Note: I live in the South, so temperatures may well be in the upper 80’s or even lower 90’s by the end of the week].

I searched for signs of autumn while taking a short walk last week. There was little indication of the season’s change, but I was elated to find autumn leaves on a favorite Dogwood.

It is delightful watching this tree transition over the months, and though I look forward to the blossoms in spring, its autumn leaves beautifully illustrate why I love the season.

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My penfriend/love notes pal Andrea recently sent a bit of autumn-inspired pocket mail. In the one of the pockets she enclosed a list of six reasons why she loves autumn.  [Click an image for a closer look].

Andrea ended her list by inviting “me” to share why I love the season. Of course, it doesn’t take much to get me to extol the virtues of autumn, so here are [my not necessarily top] seven reasons why autumn is my favorite season:

  1. Changing colors of the trees and foliage–especially now that I live in a place where I can see the brilliance of the season
  2. Milder temperatures–long-awaited relief from the oppressive southern summer and a short break from budget-busting utilities bills
  3. Boots and sweaters
  4. Hot chocolate/cocoa and popcorn [yum!]
  5. October–the best month of all!
  6. My new favorite throw [a birthday gift from a new friend]–chocolate brown, leaf embossed, plush–perfect for movie nights
  7. Pumpkin everything–except I’m not too impressed with Krispy Kreme’s pumpkin cake donut. It would be soooo much better if they’d lose the sugar/glaze on top

How about you? What do you love about autumn?


[Also, linking up with Dawn of The Day After in the Festival of Leaves photo challenge]

Many Postage Stamps + Washi Tape = Happier Mail

When an envelope that looks like this (below) arrives in your mailbox, you almost forget there might be something even more interesting inside!

After studying the stamps for several minutes, I did finally open the envelope to find an elegant handmade card from my penfriend Beth. She and I had not corresponded in quite some time, so I was overjoyed to receive a newsy letter from her.

“This Is the Day,” Handmade Card by Beth

My scanner is being weird, and no matter what I do, I can’t capture the vibrant colors in the card.  “In real life,” the white is whiter, the pink is “pinker” and the gold is “golder,” shinier, and more glittery.

Beth made the card with card stock, washi tape, and a scripture stamp. If I remember correctly, she’s the reason I made my first washi tape card (so embarrassed by it now) and postcards many moons ago. I haven’t made a washi card in years!

Her card comes at a good time. I’ve been bored with my washi tape (and my Cricut), but you can guess what I’ll be up to this weekend…

Thanks for the happy mail and the weekend therapy, Beth!

My Mailbox Speaks French: “Les publicités anciennes” (Old Advertisements)

Though my skills in other languages are minimal, my mailbox is multilingual. Just a few days ago I retrieved a happy envelope full of postcard goodies from France.  Louise of Drops of Everything sent me the package thanking me for a kindness.  Of course, this was unnecessary, but I’m learning not to stifle people’s desire to give or my mailbox’s right to be happy. 😉

Louise sent a note via Instagram letting me know that “a little something” was on the way. I had no idea what, but since I love surprises, I didn’t even try to guess. Therefore, I was thoroughly pleased when I opened the envelope and found five glossy vintage French advertisement reproductions.

The postcards are from a collection of vintage postcard reproductions.  I’ve done my best to find out more about the collection, but my French is beyond rusty (an understatement).  No matter. There was a lot of great information on the backs of the postcards.  The collection is called “Les Publicites Anciennes,” roughly translated “old advertisements.”

Reproduction of a beautiful lithographic poster executed about 1900 (anonymous author) for cocoa "Van Houten." Printing works F. Champeois, Paris. Source: private collection

Reproduction of a beautiful lithographic poster executed about 1900 (anonymous author) for “Cocoa Van Houten.” Printing: F. Champeois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a famous and original charm-lithography of 1893 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for the "Chocolat Menier." Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private Collection.

Reproduction of a famous and original chromo-lithograph of 1893 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for the “Chocolat Menier.” Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private Collection.

 

Reproduction of an original chromo-lithograph of 1897 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for "biscuits Lu" (Lefevre Utile). Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of an original chromo-lithograph of 1897 designed by the artist Firmin Bouisset for “Biscuits Lu” (Lefevre Utile). Printer: Offices Camis Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a beautiful chromo-lithograph produced at the beginning of the 20th century for Ets Vendors which at that time made "Calais" biscuits. Printer: F. Champenois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of a beautiful chromo-lithograph produced at the beginning of the 20th century for Ets Vendors which at that time made “Calais” biscuits. Printer: F. Champenois, Paris. Source: Private collection.

 

Reproduction of a famous illustration (first half of 20th century) produced by the artist Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) for the Paitissiers de face collective, found on pastry packaging and cake boxes. Source: Private collection.

Reproduction of a famous illustration (first half of 20th century) produced by the artist Germaine Bouret (1907-1953) for the Pâtisserie de face collective, found on pastry packaging and cake boxes. Source: Private collection.

Aren’t these delicious? And they arrived in time for the holidays. 🙂

It seems the postcards come from a collection “Les Authentiques et les Imaginares.” In my search for more information about the postcards, I discovered that there are a number of counterfeits of Germaine Bouret’s work and some vendors continue to sell the postcards even though it is illegal to do so.  I’m baffled by the lengths people will go to profit off someone else’s creative and intellectual property, but I’m curious about the Bouret counterfeits.  In my curiosity, I was led to an original sketch of the illustration above: Bouret Advertisement Illustrations.  In fact, on this site the particular collection from which this postcard comes was listed as an offender (but not this particular postcard).  Interesting, right? When time permits, I’m going to uncover as much as I can about this collection.

So…Louise, thanks for sending me a bundle of gorgeous postcards AND the unplanned intrigue!

 

Autumn Happy Mail

I hope you’re not tired of reading about autumn, because I received a bit of autumn happy mail today and I have to share!

Swap-bot’s Midteacher sent a swap in an autumn-themed envelope with a gorgeous autumn card and photo.  Autumn was not the theme of the swap, but it is not unusual for swappers to send extras that the receiver will enjoy. Of course, my love for the season is no secret.

I will share the swap items tomorrow, but for today, let’s just take a look at the envelope and the autumn extras.  Here’s the pretty mail art:

Zentangled Leaves by Midteacher

Zentangled Leaves by Midteacher

Just seeing this envelope makes me smile.

On the inside was a card designed with one of Midteacher’s photos and embellished with paper, ribbon, and other items.

Fall Card made by Midteacher

Fall Card made by DBW aka Midteacher

I mentioned Midteacher’s card-making techniques in a post earlier this month.

She wrote a special thank you note inside which made me feel warm, fuzzy, and appreciated.

She adhered a little photo  inspiration to the inside of the card:

Photo Inspiration by Midteacher

Photo Inspiration by DBW aka Midteacher

And added a photo featuring her favorite autumn mug and a crunchy, frosty pile of autumn leaves:

"Leaves and Tea," Photo by DBW/Diane aka Midteacher (swap-bot)

“Leaves and Tea,” Photo by Diane aka Midteacher

Now, I have to make a decision: Should these go on my “Fall Wall” or should they be used in my journaling?  Maybe, they should go on the wall until I’m ready to use them in a journal. Hmmm… I’ll figure it out later. For now, I’ll just enjoy the little happy-makers.

“See ya” tomorrow…