Postcards and the Recipe for Summer

I woke up this morning stunned by the reality that there are 25 measly days left of my summer vacation.

Summer is my time to get.things.done. I usually use the time to “repair” and catch up on everything. I read. I write. I play. I watch a whole season of a television series I don’t have time to watch during the academic year. I create. I write letters and send lots of postcards. I purge toys, books, clothing. I catch up on [some of] the “household matters” that pile up from August to May. I plan for fall semester.

This summer is different. I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night with an unchanged “to do list.”  Sure, I get some things done. But, despite my daily lists, I spend most of my time daydreaming or staring at the computer screen trying to figure out what to do next–or what I have the desire and energy to do next. Then, I take a nap.

As I was organizing the postcards I received over the last few months, I mulled over reasons I’m not as productive and considered strategies to increase my productivity over the next few weeks.  I paused when I ran across two love notes that scream “summer.” They reminded me that summer is not all about work, and what I need is rest not a reset.

“Pool at Luna Park,” Sketch/Watercolor by Andrea F.

Andrea F., an author/artist and Love Notes participant from Vienna, Austria, sent both images.

The first is a sketch Andrea completed while in Australia in February to escape the cold Austrian winter.  It depicts the North Sydney Olympic Pool with a view of Luna Park.  I’m impressed with how accurately Andrea sketched the scene. Check out a photograph here to see what I mean: North Sydney Olympic Pool [fourth image beneath the central image].

“Summer” by Andrea F.

 

With the collage postcard above, Andrea provided the recipe for summer–masterpieces, poetry, fancy, eternity, and pure art [see image for measurements].

Thanks for the reminder, Andrea! Summer is for all of this.

So, bear with me while I check myself: I work hard from August to May. My weekdays begin at 4:00 a.m. (sometimes 3:00), and I regularly put 75-80 hours per week into my work–preparing for classes, meeting with students, grading papers, attending other meetings, and doing my part for the committees on which I serve.  It’s insane to squeeze everything that I didn’t get around to from August to May into a two-month summer. It is absolutely okay to not kill myself working just as hard while I’m on break. Summer is, after all, the best perk of academia.

Thanks to two beautiful postcards, my break has finally begun–vacation from guilt, lists, schedules, and the fierce pressure to get it all done. I need the poetry, art, fancy, and naps (especially) to cope with life after July.

Another Round of Love!

We completed the first round of Love Notes 2017 a couple of weeks ago.  Again, I had a beautifully artistic soul with whom to exchange cards and messages.  My partner, Carolyn D. of Garden City, Idaho sent handcrafted cards with elegantly handwritten messages.  It was always such a treat to find one of her notes in my mailbox.

For week 1’s prompt “I can trust the universe because…,” Carolyn sent:

“Create Art” by Carolyn D.

I can trust the universe because of its maker, who shows Himself in the laughter of the children, the beauty of nature, and the kindness of strangers.

Week 2’s prompt, “I invite you to tend to your soul…” provided me with a gorgeous card and much needed advice.  I should have heeded this advice before I was forced to spend four days in bed.

“Feathers and Spools,” by Carolyn D.

I invite you to tend to your soul in a tub of hot water with your favorite bubble bath… Then, donning warm socks and a pair of sweats and reading your favorite book while curled up in your favorite chair.

I’ll be tending my soul and body in this way tomorrow with a hot cup of tea added to the prescription. My soul and body need this.

And for “Love is…,” the dreaded week 3 prompt (dreaded because that means the round has come to an end), Carolyn appropriately sent hearts and love.

“Hearts and Love” by Carolyn D.

Love is…

  • taking time to help someone when you’re in a hurry
  • being kind when someone’s opinion differs from yours
  • God giving you strength when you are overwhelmed by the events in the world and in your country

I’m intrigued by how Carolyn can take torn paper and cut outs and make such visually appealing cards.

We were similar in our approaches to the prompts and I thoroughly enjoyed our exchange.  She ended the swap with a nice lengthy note telling me a bit about herself.  I’m happy to add her to my growing list of postcard pals.

As usual, I received extra cards from other Love Notes participants turned pen friends.  I shared Martha’s cards here and here.  If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll fall in love with the adorable raccoon watercolor.

  • Jacki sent a multi-paneled postcard, “Driftwood Art” by Martin Wiscombe.  This one was sent from the future, as it was dated February 18, 2017.  I love it!  I’ll make a point of revisiting it on 02-18-17.
  • Lorelei sent a “Did You Know?” postcard about Five Missions of San Antonio, Texas.
  • Sheila, a new Love Notes friend shared a woodblock print by Holly Meade, a Maine artist. Check out Reach Road Gallery for more.
  • Marrianna, another new friend and very talented photographer shared her gorgeous flower, edited in iColorama, one of my favorite editing apps.  You can see more of her work on her blog, Snapshots in Time.
  • Christine, who is a prolific postcard sender, sent her cheerful watercolor tulips.

[Click an image for a closer look]

The next round begins in April. Plan to join in! For more information and to sign up, click here.

“When Giving Is All We Have”

"I will give thanks to you, Lord with all my heart." Psalm 9:1 Art by Lorelei C. #lovenotesjb

“I will give thanks to you, Lord with all my heart.” Psalm 9:1.  Gratitude Art by Lorelei C. #lovenotesjb

When Giving Is All We Have

One river gives
Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

~Alberto Ríos, 1952

Happy Gratitude Day!

Love Notes!

Love Notes begins tomorrow!

Love Notes is a postcard project coordinated by Jennifer Belthoff that “encourages slowing down, getting back to basics, and connecting through handwritten notes sent through the mail.”  Participants sign up for the swap on Jennifer’s website and then she assigns partners–notified via email–who correspond with each other for three weeks based on a prompt she provides each Sunday. The swap is hosted a few times during the year. Although the swap has been going on for some time, I only recently heard about it through Christine B., a penfriend I met through Liberate Your Art 2016.

Postcard writers can respond to the prompt in any way they choose–sentence, paragraph, poem or list.

Angie, my partner for the July swap, lives in Tampa, Florida. She sent three postcards that had an element of “handmade.”  The  first one was the front of a greeting card, too cute to toss, and perfect for her message in response to the prompt, “Begin each day with…:”  Begin each day with hugs, flowers, and friends.

Hugs, Flowers, and New Friends

Hugs, Flowers, and New Friends

Angie’s week two card, art deco fashion, was also appropriately chosen for her response to the prompt, “Yesterday…Today…Tomorrow…” She wrote: “Don’t ever lose your sense of style!  Be brave…Be strong…Be bold…Always!”

Felt hat and purse with triangular decorations, 1928

Felt hat and purse with triangular decorations, 1928

Angie had fun experiementing with her new watercolors. This postcard is from Pepin Press.

And lastly, in response to the prompt, “In my next 30 years…,” Angie wrote, “You get to choose what you spread.”

Spread Kindness by Angie C., Tampa, Florida

Although most participants share their own art and photography, Love Notes may be handmade or storebought.  In fact, participants can send note cards or letters instead of postcards.  The idea is to send a handwritten smile to be found among all the bills and junk that clutter our mailboxes.

Through the Love Notes Facebook group I connected with other participants and exchanged additional postcards.

Joanne from Ottawa (Canada) sent:

With Love from Ottawa

“With Love from Ottawa,” Photo by Joanne.

She penned a Henry David Thoreau quote on the back: “To affect he quality of the day that is the highest of arts.”

Christine B., who regularly shares her photo postcards with Love Notes participants, sent two cards, one featuring purple hydrangeas.  She sent this one “in solidarity” after yet another police shooting of an unarmed African American.

Hydrangeas by Christine B.

“Hydrangeas” by Christine B.

After receiving a photo postcard from me of a tree with birds’ nests, Christine sent a card featuring a snow-embellished tree she shot last winter.  She sent her card with well wishes for the academic year and a quote:  “Courage is fear that said its prayers.”

A reminder that summer's over. Photo by Christine Brooks of Flagstaff, Arizona.

“Winter,” Photo by Christine B. of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Lorelei C., a paper artist from Pennsylvania,  kindly sent two handmade postcards with lyrics from songs–the  catchy Bobby McFerrin “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” [Click an image for a closer look]

Finally, Deb, an artist from Virginia Beach, Virginia shared her lovely postcard made with ink, a “Make Art” stamp, washi tape, paint, and glitter pen.

love-notes-summer-2016-9

“Make Art,” by Deb D.

Make art.  An elegant “mandate” that we craft and create.  No objections from me!  I love how Deb accented the postcard with a dash of color and some of my favorite washi tape.

I’ve been looking forward to Love Notes since the July swap ended. If you haven’t noticed, I participate in a lot of mail swaps, but what I appreciate about Love Notes is the opportunity to make a real connection with individuals.  Besides, I’m more than ready to give all the “thinking” and “doing” of the last two months a momentary rest and send more pretty out into the world.   Partners have been assigned.  Now, we just wait for the prompt.

If you want to see more Love Notes, check out the Facebook group or search the #lovenotesjb hashtag on Instagram.  Be sure to check back. I’ll blog postcards as they come in!

Happy Weekend!