Live Well. Laugh Triple. Love Without Measure.

The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.Tibetan Proverb

We’ve reached the last of our “Live-Laugh-Love” posts. I mentioned earlier this week that I would explain later why the theme is significant to me. “Live, Laugh, Love” was my sister Karlette’s mantra. If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you know that we lost her to breast cancer in 2013. I still miss her terribly and think about her every single day. The theme of the latest Global Art Swap provided an opportunity to honor her memory.

It is significant that I’m posting what I sent for the swap today because today is Karlette’s birthday, and as I struggle to move past deep sadness, I find it necessary to revisit the words I shared with pen friends regarding the significance of the theme to me.

Live-Laugh-Love

Karlette lived as much as she could during her short sojourn on this earth; she loved to laugh and she loved so deeply that she was “everybody’s” best friend. Her middle school students and their parents adored her because she poured so much life, love, and laughter into her students. I learned so much from her and came to so many realizations because of how she handled her many rounds with cancer.

We were designed to LIVE abundantly—to fill life with all the good things we can hold. Yet many of us have trouble with “living” a good life because we allow worries, the past, unforgiveness, and so many annoying trifles to get in the way. Problems–struggles–are inevitable, but we don’t have to make such strife central in our lives. In spite of all the trauma and drama, we can choose joy and squeeze every ounce of the good stuff out of life. When we live in the fullness of joy, those “other things” don’t gain much of our attention and we can embrace the good life.

After my sister’s passing–like many who experience the death of a loved one–grief had me in a slow, tightening grip. Although I knew the process was necessary, I still needed to be present and functional. In an effort to shake myself out of the darkness, I called an aunt–a trained counselor–and she encouraged me to laugh. She told me to simply find some funny television shows or movies and LAUGH out loud.  That was the best advice she could have offered at the time. I had forgotten how to smile. I’d forgotten that the most basic thing that makes us feel alive is laughter. And—the bonus—I felt so connected to my sister because she loved to laugh. My aunt’s advice has come in handy quite frequently over the last four years as I found the grief of losing my sister intertwined with other losses.

Laughter also has a way of bridging gaps and mending broken fences, so take it into those relationships that are strained. Find the humor in what may have created a rift. Try not to take life so seriously and make it a point to laugh often—even at yourself. It is certainly medicine for the soul.

LOVE is the most complex part of the theme.  Love is easy when people are loving and loveable, but the journey to becoming a truly loving human is beautifully painful. We have to learn to love those who are mean, hateful, and abusive and those who don’t love us. It takes a tremendous amount of soul work to love in this way, but the beauty it creates in us and in the world is without measure. Please note that “love” does not equal acceptance or tolerance of abuse in any form.

I recently watched a video on the protests in Charlottesville, VA, filmed to capture the perspective of the white nationalists who organized the event. Though repulsed by the faulty reasoning, the language and attitudes against non-Whites, Jews, and homosexuals, I felt a huge wave of compassion for the protesters. How sad it is to live with such hatred and willingness to harm others! How inhumane to wish to annihilate others or strip them of human rights!

No matter our vast differences, true love knows no bounds. We must do the hard work and learn to love those who hate us. Kahlil Gibran’s “On Love” captures this far better than I can.

The card I originally created (above) is very pink because that was Karlette’s favorite color. I designed it in a few other colors to appeal to the tastes of family members who will be receiving the card soon.

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If you or someone you know is dealing with breast cancer, visit the Karle’s Wings link (above), and a bit of light and joy will wing its way soon…

Flowers, Feathers, and Butterflies: Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much

When I lamented in the Global Postcard Art Swap/heart Exchange group that I missed the signup deadline for the swap, Sharon R., with whom I had no previous interaction, immediately offered to send me a postcard. When I received her gorgeous postcard, my jaw dropped.

It is simply stunning! The colors, multiple layers, and textures offer a visual feast. The scan does little justice to this handmade postcard. You’d have to see it in person, touch it and hold it to fully appreciate its beauty.

“Live, Laugh, Love.” Handmade postcard by Sharon R.

Live-Laugh-Love is one of those phrases we hear (and see) often, but most of us don’t know where it originated. It has been misattributed to many others–including Hitler (?!) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (doesn’t even sound like him to me); however, the phrase actually comes from the first lines of a poem written in 1904 by writer Bessie Anderson Stanley.  [Note: the year the poem was written explains the gendered language, and we won’t go into what “pure women” might mean].

He has achieved success
who has lived well,
laughed often, and loved much;

who has enjoyed the trust of
pure women,

the respect of intelligent men and
the love of little children;

who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;

who has left the world better than he found it
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem or a rescued soul;

who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;

who has always looked for the best in others and
given them the best he had;

whose life was an inspiration;
whose memory a benediction.

When you are tempted to measure success by dollars and things, revisit this poem and take a look at the treasures stored up in your soul. When it comes to the things that really matter in life, you will find that you are richer and way more successful than you think!

“Live and Laugh and Laugh at Love”

It’s “Live-Laugh-Love” Week on Pics and Posts!

That was the theme of the latest round of the Global HeART Swap/heART exchange. I missed the deadline (again), but found a way to participate because the theme is dear to my heart (I’ll explain later this week). When I lamented that I’d missed signup, kind souls came to the rescue and filled my mailbox with life, love, and laughter. I will be sharing their cards throughout the week.

Things have been a “bit over the top” lately, so I’m grateful for the postcards that were sent to me. I have often paused in the middle of the madness to revisit the messages written and enjoy the pretty.

The first card is a colorful collage postcard from Eileen V of Stuttgart, Germany.

“Life is a Bowl of Cherries,” Made by Eileen V.

Her interpretation of the theme includes a purple (just for me) circus act and lyrics from [Fosse’s] “Life is a Bowl of Cherries.”

Life is just a bowl of cherries, don’t take it serious, its mysterious. Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh and laugh at love, love a laugh, laugh and love. –Bob Fosse

Eileen included a note recommending that I watch Follies: New Broadway Cast Recording, “Live, Laugh, Love.”

She managed to pack a whole lot of fun into a 4×6 postcard!

I hope your week is filled with laughter.

Quotes and Hearts: Love on Postcards

I recall my glee the evening my hubby handed me the stack of postcards he had just retrieved from the mailbox and post office box.  I placed them in my planner hoping to savor them later, but then life happened–illnesses, midterms, and life in general.  Now, that the madness is less intense for a moment [Spring Break, yay!], I have time to really appreciate the postcards.

The postcards came from friends and Love Notes and heART Exchange pals.

The February 2017 heART Exchange focused on “Quotes from the Heart,”  so participants had to include a quote somewhere on the postcard.  I received postcards from two of my three partners.  I realized after receiving my third card that I submitted my address with the wrong zip code to Louise, the swap coordinator.  I used my P.O. Box address with my residential zip code. Duh! I’m actually amazed that most of them made it to me. Kudos to the USPS for the extra work they had to put in!

Nancy of Ellijay, Georgia sent a cute bunny with an inspiring greeting.

Love You Bunny, Art by Nancy F.

Love You Bunny, Art by Nancy F.

You are so special! Believe in yourself and the dreams you hold. Dance in the rain and play in the moonlight. Celebrate YOU in all your glory…Enjoy all the magic that life has to offer.

The happy-face rabbit gives me the warm-fuzzies.  Bunnies (rabbits) are among my favorite “critters,” second to teddy bears.  I especially appreciate the charge to “dance in the rain.”  I can’t wait till the weather stabilizes and I can do just that. There’s something cleansing about walking in the rain.  I imagine dancing in the rain is liberating.

“Lacy Heart,” Die cut by Lori W.

Lori W. of Elroy, Wisconsin sent the lacy heart reminding me that [life] is “about love, compassion, kindness, and faith.”  It is so easy lately to get caught up in trifles, so this was a needed reminder.   She also enclosed a tag which now fills a slot in my faith planner.

“You Are Loved,” Tag from Lori W.

Lori also sent a beautiful autumn postcard with vines framing a window.   How did she know about my romance with autumn? 😉

“Nature’s Décor,” postcard from Lori W.

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

Christine B. who introduced me to both Love Notes and the heART Exchange, made a sweet fabric postcard and sent it as an extra.

Fabric Postcard by Christine B.

Fabric Postcard by Christine B.

If you love someone, tell them because hearts are often broken by words left unspoken.

Martha, who participates in both swaps, sent another of her gorgeous watercolors.

“Nesting,” Watercolor by Martha Slavin

Your soul is the place inside of you which reaches out to connect you with the universe.

Slightly unrelated, a second Joy to the World card, from the December heART Exchange, winged its way to me from the United Kingdom last month.

“Wishing you Joy, Peace, and Happiness,” from Ann M.

Ann M. ran into a few snafus, and since she was sending the card after the height of the festive season, she remade it, modifying the colors.  As far as I’m concerned, blessing the world with “joy” is never out of season.

Love Notes also came in to help me celebrate “love month”–two from new penfriends, Sarah and Eileen, and one from Christine B. (whose postcard made the green-eyed monster appear because she was exactly where I wanted to be, on the beach in Florida). [Click an image for a closer look and details].

I was ill twice in February, so my friend Cy surprised me with a “get well” postcard.

“She stretched herself upon tiptoe and peeped over the edge of the mushroom and her eyes immediately met those of a large blue caterpillar.”

The postcard is part of the 100-postcard MacMillan Alice set.  The illustration is from Carroll’s manuscript for Alice’s Adventures Underground.  The timing of this postcard was perfect, not just because I was ill but because I had just sent the same postcard to a swapper who loves Alice in Wonderland. The mail gods sent it back to me. 🙂

Last, but not least, I received a unique handmade postcard from my penfriend, Beckra.

From Beckra

“The Workings of the Heart,” Designed by Rebecca R. (Beckra)

Beckra had fun making these cards for friends and family.  No two are alike. She created the texture by painting over text pages and threaded her design over the texture, allowing the diagonals of the threaded design to play against the straight lines of the text that are just below the surface.  Her goal was something “vaguely like a heart, but then abstracted.”

I thoroughly enjoy Valentine’s Day cards that deviate from the typical motifs–red hearts, flowers, and chocolate–so I’m loving this one.

My mailbox was full of love last month, and I did my best to reciprocate.  I’ll share the postcard I sent in 50 different directions tomorrow.

Until then, maybe you can take a few minutes and write a postcard tonight.  Someone in your life needs to be reminded that he or she is loved.

Hugs!

heART Exchange: Joy to the World!

Do you want to see what was in yesterday’s mail that made my heart skip with glee? 😃

Wishing you...

“Wishing You…,”–Handmade art by Ellen

I know this looks like a Christmas card and for some the holiday is “over and done,” but this isn’t a Christmas card. This is a joy to the world card.  To-maa-to,  to-mah-to. 😉  No matter.   I love the holiday season; in fact, I am still in the process of mailing my last few greetings.  [My rule–I have up to one month after the holiday to send cards.] 🙂

This piece of art was sent to me as part of heART Exchange, the Global Art Swap, coordinated by artist Louise Gale. Similar to other art swaps I’ve participated in, Louise inspires artists, collects and coordinates participants’ information, and assigns partners.  For the heART exchange, participates create art based on the assigned theme and send to three partners; they also receive art from three different partners.

Louise started the swap in 2011 because:

Giving and receiving is the constant flow of energy for our heart and what better way than to create, send and receive something beautiful and hand-made through your letter box. I would love to inspire you to live and create from the heart everyday, so it is so wonderful to host and take part in this global art swap.

The theme of the December exchange was “Joy to the World.”  “Wishing you” is the first postcard I’ve received from an assigned partner and I’m looking forward to the others showing up in my mailbox (fingers crossed).  The postcard made its way to me from the Netherlands with warm greetings from Ellen.  The scan does little justice to the cheerful creation which has lots of texture and silver and gold touches.  You can see more of (and perhaps purchase) Ellen’s work by visiting her website.

My postcard pal Christine–who introduced me to the swap–sent a bit of joy my way as well:

"Joy for the Anemones," Photo by Christine B.

“Joy for the Anemones,” Photo by Christine B.

If you’re interested, the next Global Art Swap starts in February, so click the link and join the fun!

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of creating and sending art into the world, Liberate Your Art 2017 signup is open, so take a click over to Kat Eye Studio and join in!