The Sunflower Challenge

“Sunflower Week” ends with a challenge. After reading The Sunflower Myth blog post, Ralshella, one of my former students, challenged me to rewrite the story.

Challenge accepted!

Of course, I can’t let Shelibelle off the hook, so I’m challenging her to pick up her pen and rewrite the story.

And I’m challenging you, my blog friends, to rewrite the story too.

Create a myth that explains the origin of the sunflower. You can revise or work against the Ancient Greek myth of Clytie related in the Sunflower Myth post. Or you can create an entirely new myth.

Since this is a creative work, you are pretty much free to express as you wish. There are three rules:

  1. Refrain from using profanity or sexually suggestive themes (My kiddo often reads my blog posts).
  2. Avoid the woman victim-villain-abused characterizations we typically find in such stories.
  3. Present your own original work.

I will post my own sunflower story next week. If you have a blog, come back here a week from today and post a link to your myth in the comments of that post. If you don’t have a blog, but would still like to participate, post your story in the comments. 🌻🌻🌻

I’m looking forward to your stories!

Shine on!

“Random Acts” of Christmas/The Intentional Gift

I’d planned to drop by today with a quick post about goodwill and the holiday season, but then this happened:

How could I resist sharing such a gorgeous Christmas morning sky? It’s a gift–a reward really, for having to wake up so early after being up so late last night (read: early this morning).

I love the Christmas season. I enjoy the lights, the colors, the various interpretations of the Nativity, Christmas trees, Santa, reindeer, the movies, cartoons, the glitter, glitz, and traditions of the holiday. I even like the hustle and bustle–to an extent. But what I really love about the season is that it generally brings out the best in us and reveals the goodness in our hearts. We’re kinder and gentler, more giving, and more patient with each other.

A few days ago, our new neighbors did something that we haven’t experienced from neighbors in more than a decade. They dropped by with a Christmas gift–a delicious assortment of cookies and holiday goodies they’d made themselves!

Despite my love for the holiday, my Christmas spirit remained dormant for much of the season, buried beneath exhaustion and a far too long to-do list. This neighborly act began a shift in my state of mind, particularly as I thought about how these same neighbors have performed other random acts of kindness for us over the last several months.

But here’s the thing–I don’t think my neighbors’ acts are so random. I think they’re specifically for us and intentional, with a particular result or reaction in mind.

It is this thought that led me to Christ and “the reason for the season.” The gift of His birth was specific and intentional (John 3:16, 17).

Just before falling asleep [this morning], I read a few devotional thoughts from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young that underscored my thinking. Thus, my Christmas spirit was recharged. Here are the parts that resonated most with me:

As you celebrate the wonder of My birth in Bethlehem, celebrate also your rebirth into eternal life. This everlasting gift was the sole purpose of My entering your sin-stained world. Receive My gift with awe and humility. Take time to explore the vast dimensions of My Love. Allow thankfulness to flow freely from your heart in response to My glorious gift. Let My peace rule in your heart and be thankful.  –December 24.

I set aside My Glory so I could identify with mankind. I accepted the limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions–a filthy stable. That was a dark night for Me, even though angels lit up the sky proclaiming “Glory!” to awestruck shepherds.  When you sit quietly with Me, the process I went through is reversed in your experience. As you identify with Me, heaven’s vistas open up before you–granting you glimpses of My glory.

I am the gift that continuously gives–bounteously with no strings attached. –December 26

May you find the true joy of the season in the Gift of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Autumn Bliss: Bursting With Its Last Beauty

Autumn Leaves: Image by Martha S.

Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”  –Lauren DeStefano, Wither

As I was out and about yesterday, I noticed that autumn is hanging on fiercely in some places. The colorful display in mid-December compensated for the too cold weather we’ve been having lately. But the trees I glimpsed on campus when I made a quick stop at my office this afternoon proved that we are certainly facing the last days of autumn.

Of course, I cannot let the season end without sharing a bit (more) of it with you, so I’ve decided to dedicate (some of) my posts this week to my autumn bliss. I’ll try to contain myself and limit the season’s posts to three, but I’m not promising.

The mixed media postcard featured above was made by my penfriend Martha S. Life has kept her busy, so it was a too pleasant surprise to find this bit of autumn love in my mailbox. This beauty has found a home in my notes and quotes journal.

Thank you, Martha, for this lovely rendering of autumn bliss!

Oops!

I failed.

As a recovering perfectionist, failure can wreak havoc on my psyche. I have to coach myself away from negative feelings that start in the pit of my stomach and that, if left unchecked, work their way into my mind and set up shop.

And here’s the thing. It’s not even a “real” failure. I simply missed posting a microblog yesterday. Not because I forgot. Not because I had nothing to talk about, but simply because I was feeling other feelings and couldn’t shake those feelings enough to pull up my blog and write.

I crawled into bed much too early, thinking I could nap away the feelings. I opened my eyes every now and then to check the time, hoping I’d have enough of some other feeling to post something before Monday became Tuesday. Anything.

I last looked at the clock at 11:20 p.m. and thought…there’s still enough Monday left.  Then, I slipped into a deep, deep sleep.

I chided myself about it all day.

This is my attempt to “get over it” and to stop beating myself for what can’t be undone. I enjoy blogging—it has been a safe space for the last five (plus) years and I don’t want to associate negative feelings with my blog.  So, I’m shaking those feelings by expressing them and by reminding myself—that “if at first I don’t succeed” at blogging every Monday for 52 weeks straight, then I can “try, try again” next year if I choose.

More importantly, I am allowing space for my own “humanness” and acknowledging that reconciling those other feelings was far more important than a blog post at that moment.

Till the Gossamer Thread Catch: A Short Break with Walt Whitman

I’m in the middle of grading a heap of papers and trying desperately not to lose focus until I reach today’s goal, so I’m dropping in to share a “photo poem” I pulled from my “archives”–the second verse of Walt Whitman’s “A Noiseless Patient Spider” paired with a dandelion I shot some time ago.

You can find the (only a few lines longer) full poem and a little about the poet here: Academy of American Poets: Whitman.

Until next time…

Start with Yes…

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the postcards I received for Love Notes 21, Prompt 1, “Start with…” At the time I did not share the card I designed in response to the prompt because they were en route to the recipients and I didn’t want to “spoil” their fun by posting here.  But here it is…

I captured the train tracks while waiting for my hubby and son to finish up at a pet shop that also sells and exhibits art. Cool, right? The photo served as a perfect image for my response to the prompt:

Start with…yes. The road ahead awaits your consent.

We get so many messages telling us how to say “no”–messages that remind us that we shouldn’t let others take advantage of our generosity or take more than we’re willing to give of our time and resources. The problem is that “no” is such a powerful word that it seeps into our consciousness and into our language even when we don’t want it to, especially when we talk to ourselves. “No” spearheads all the negative self-talk at the root of our unplanted dreams. It convinces us that we’re not prepared enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not articulate enough to do one thing or another. We’ve trained ourselves so well in the art of no that we say “no” to everything…even to things that are healthy and beneficial for us.

So my message…”start with  yes,” is about changing the internal dialogue. It’s about dismissing all the reasons why we shouldn’t and embracing the reasons why we should and all the what ifs in a way that exposes the benefits and not the drawbacks of the word “yes.” Clinging to “no” means we’re stuck in this one place. Never venturing. Never gaining and never reaching what is waiting for us just beyond “yes” and further down the road.

I encourage you to start with yes…and participate as a whole new world unfolds before you.

Creative Conundrum

I’m on break for seven more glorious days (including the weekend). I desperately need a mental break, so I’m trying not to slip into my old “Thanksgiving Break” habit of spending the entire time grading papers, catching up, and updating my grade book.

There is a pile of books on the floor in my crafting space, paint, ink, and a bin of stamps begging for attention–not to mention the words, words, words in my head needing to come out!

So many things to get into, so little time.  But…I’m determined to get my hands stained with ink and paint and stuck to something this week.

What about you? Are you planning any creative adventures this week?