NPM | Black and White | Joyful, Faithful, Patient

butterfly joyful in hope

For this third week of National Photography Month (NPM), I am sharing some of the monochrome photo inspiration “cards” I made during Sheila D’s September 2021 Creative Gathering. I divided the month of creativity into thirds—days 1-10, abstract photo art; days 11-20, doodle art; days 21-30 black and white photography. The common thread was scripture. I shared one of the photos for a #ThursdayTreeLove in January.

In light of the recent racial violence committed by one individual against Black citizens in Buffalo, New York, I am sharing images that feature Bible verses that can provide solace and hope. I will not comment (much?) on them. Sometimes the world is so absolutely crazy that I am convinced we need only the voice of God. Everything else is just…noise.

 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. –Romans 12:12

National Photography Month | May Flowers | Petit Pink Roses

Petit Rose

It is now May . . . It is the month wherein Nature hath her fill of mirth, and the senses are filled with delights. I conclude, it is from the Heavens a grace, and to Earth a gladness. —Nicholas Breton

May is National Photography Month (NPM), so this month offers the perfect opportunity to unload the camera and share some of the shots that hide there. You’d be amazed how many photographs I manage to take in one week and how little of the beauty I encounter in my daily life makes it beyond the camera. 

Is there a magic tool that would allow the shot to go straight from camera to blog? No? Maybe, those of you who find the energy to post daily can show me your ways. For now, I’ll make life a easy for myself.

Since May is about the photograph, I’ll share a photo or two (or maybe, three) in wordless or nearly wordless posts. You’ll get a bit of eye candy, and I’ll get to focus all the wordy energy where I need to at the moment—in year-end reports, presentations, and scholarly writing. 

April showers certainly bring May flowers, so for the first few “blog days” of NPM, you’ll get some of the blooms that catch my eye this week. Today’s shot features “petit pink roses.” I snapped these yesterday in my friend Colleen’s garden, which explodes with color for more than half the year. I’ll be sure to posts more of her happy blooms soon!

Happy May!

Sunflowers and Poetry | Meet Me Halfway

Photo_2022-04-25_143631_1

Since we are in the final week of National Poetry Month, I decided to share poetry and sunflowers all week long. This month–with all its busyness–tried to rob me of poetry, but I persisted. I wrote and read poetry daily and even managed to plan and host another successful [annual] poetry event.

This weekend I “rediscovered” Javan, a poet I enjoyed as a teen. I [probably] purchased the two books I own while perusing shops on Canal Street in New Orleans–Meet Me Halfway and Something to Someone. I have not read these books in decades, but thought about them a couple of days ago and luckily found them with ease in my home library.

After reading through selections, I see why I loved his works way back then. His poetry is uncomplicated and speaks to our yearnings and all the things that cause teenage angst.  

Here are two poems from Meet Me Halfway to start you work week. I plan to share another one of his poems Thursday.

By Javan

I’ve learned
That Life offers much more
Than most people take

I’ve learned
That many people live their life
Within small circles
Afraid to go out
Afraid to let others in

And I’ve also learned
That at the end of Life’s game
Most people wish
That somehow
They could have played it differently

By Javan

Many people complain
Life never gave them any chances

We are given Life
We must take the Chances


About the Image: Today’s tiny art is brought to you by none other than Sheila Delgado of Sheila’s Corner Studio. She sent this gem to me in late October and I have been looking forward to sharing it with you. It kicks off “Sunflowers and Poetry Week” perfectly! You can view a better scan of the sunflower and read about her creative process in Smooth the Way. Oh, why sunflowers with poetry? “Just because,” of course!

Purple | “Bump Up the Color”

Purple 8

I read the few words [below] by poet Yrsa Daley-Ward a week ago, and they have been an answer to the chaos and noise of the world, noise I do not want to be a part of.

Life is beautiful. Live it. Bump up the colour of the moment. Bright things can be found everywhere – in the undergrowth, in the unexpected, in the calm following something significant, in the pure thought inside a meditation.

There are things that I will hold forever. I have to turn over the soil each day. There is beauty everywhere. Often, I miss it.  –Yrsa Daley-Ward, the utter

I’m convinced it was her words that led me to all the purple this weekend.

Two Poems for Your Monday

Agape Review published two of my poems last week (yay!), so I’m dropping in to share them with a just little background on both.

Unlike the Musings from My Younger Self I share far too infrequently, these poems were written in my adult years.

I wrote “Word Made Flesh” in 2017 after an exchange with a student in which we talked through the intense grief of losing our sisters. A third student entered the conversation halfway through and offered comfort and her own insights on life and grief. Though the interaction occurred four years after my sister [Karlette’s] death, it was the first time I had ever expressed my feelings over the loss so vulnerably. The title of the poem comes from John 1:14:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The second poem, “God, You Are,” was written about 20 years ago. I scribbled it on a notecard and tucked it inside one of my journals. I rediscovered it a year or two ago, typed it, and added it to my “works in progress” poetry folder with the intention to tweak it. However, I made a split second decision to submit the unpolished version of the poem because that raw expression felt poignant in the moment.

Click the links below to read each poem:

Feel free to leave a comment there or come back here and comment. I look forward to your feedback!


About the Image: The photo art above features a moment of solitude and reflection at Green Mountain this past weekend. If time and energy permit, I’ll share more photos later in this week.

“No Justice, No Peace”

Martin Luther King, Jr. photographed by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964. [Public Domain]

If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don’t want peace. If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don’t want peace. If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it. Peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but the existence of justice for all people. —Martin Luther King, Jr., Three Major Evils

100 Failures in One Year!

Heart's Desire 2I had a full, productive first day back at work, and though I have not completed the task list (unsurprisingly), I feel good about relaxing for the rest of the evening. I thought I’d drop in with a little inspiration for the new year.

I stopped formulating New Year’s goals and resolutions some time ago. I use my birthday (October), instead of January 1, to reflect on the past year and consider my goals for the next 365-day cycle. However, at the beginning of the year, I do take stock of my progress and consider methods I can use to achieve my goals.

One of my forever goals is to get things out of my head, onto paper, and into publications. My life is crazy-busy, but if I’m not writing, I’m dying inside. So I write a LOT! I have journals and notebooks full of writing. And last year, after attending Tara Gray’s Publish and Flourish workshop, I started writing every morning (for a minimum of 15 minutes). I took a break from the practice, because in just a few months, I had drafted several articles and needed to take the time to edit, integrate research where necessary, and consider publications. 

And that’s where many things get stuck. That’s the time-consuming part, and because of all my other responsibilities, those things get put on the back burner. But, I think it’s also the scary part. Finishing can be daunting because it means I have to put it out there and deal with the possibility of rejection.

That’s what I’d like to push through this year, and Kim Liao’s article on failing best, “Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year,” provides the antidote. In the Lit Hub article, Liao shared advice a writing friend she admired offered her:

Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.

I read the article late last year and decided that starting January 1, 2022, I’m going for the goal—100 rejections in a year. Yes, this will be mortifying for my soul, but the goal is not really the rejections, of course. The goal is to keep writing and to keep submitting. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m writing and submitting subpar material just for the sake of rejection. If I go for 100 rejections, that means, I am getting good writing done, crafting proposals, putting my work out there, and not sitting on the fence waiting for the publishing gods to find me. 

I like the idea of pushing for the loss instead of the win. It removes the pressure and anxiety and frees me to write authentically. So, that’s my one “big” plan for the year. I’ll let you know by December 31, 2022 how it goes. 😉

You can use the same principle for your goals. Try your hand at 100 new recipes; create 100 new clothing designs; visit 100 new places; read 100 books; create 100 masterpieces, or even perform 100 random acts of kindness. Whatever it is, go for it!

For now, this is my prayer for you:

May God grant your heart’s desire and renew your plans. — Psalm 20:4

Just remember to put in the work!


About the Image: This is one of the 10 pieces of inspirational “doodle art” I created for the 30-Day Creative Art Gathering. I think another round starts next month.

The Burnout Grinch

Tinsel Trail, Huntsville, Alabama, 2019

Forgive me. I did not intend to miss a whole week of blogging. After too many meetings, the usual post-semester mayhem, and life in general, all I wanted to do by the time I left work is…nothing.

The struggle is real. So is burnout.

There’s nothing worse than burnout 12 days before Christmas. Scratch that. Actually, there are a lot of things far worse.

But.

Tired is tired. And being in the middle of a pandemic makes regular tired feel like extra, extra tired–like a giant weight of exhaustion around one’s neck.

That unforgiving weight makes it difficult to push through or even move toward the things I actually want to do. :-/

And, I want Christmas. The tree, the lights, the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, the movies, (vegan) egg nog, and too many sweets. To make up for the big family Christmas we need but can’t have because of COVID-19, we need as many bells and whistles as my guys and I can manage.

Don’t let the “Burnout Grinch” steal my Christmas. If you have any out-of-the-ordinary suggestions for overcoming pandemic burnout, please drop them in the comments.

The Beauty of Small

Snapseed 74

“Small” seems to be the theme of the last couple of years. The pandemic invites us to scale down our lives and learn to journey through the small. These strange and unsure times urge us to take small steps, celebrate small things, and live in small moments.

I’ve been reading various articles that claim we are post-pandemic. As I skim reports of numbers rising in certain areas, I am not convinced. I am concerned that such headlines cause us to move too swiftly and risk being in the same situation we were in during the early months of the pandemic.

Though not explicitly about our Corona times, Susan Frybort’s poem, “the beauty of small,” serves as a primer for us as we move through our collective trauma and slowly make our way to living fully.

the beauty of small
susan frybort

let me paint for you the beauty of small…small words.
small observations, small greetings, short calls.

these are the bravest steps for someone shy,
someone hurt, someone trying to connect,
and someone healing from trauma.
small steps. coming out of hiding and
finally feeling safe enough to make the first move.
small steps. relaxed and ready to practice healthy ways
to bridge and bond for the very first time.
small steps, like a beautiful sunrise–
glimmering at first, before shining boldly.


About the Image: The zentangle sunflower art in today’s post was crafted by my newest Love Notes friend and Certified Zentangle Teacher, Kat van Rooyen. In a small moment she and I chatted (via Messenger) about our mutual love for sunflowers. Afterwards, she “tangled” this abstract sunflower just for me! A retired psychotherapist, Kat now teaches zentangling and uses it as a form of therapy. I chose this piece for the post because the tiny art (3.5 in x 3.5 in) represents the powerful potential of the small–for building, healing, and restoring.

If you are looking for something new as you figure out how to navigate the uncertainty, see Kat’s post for the benefits of tangling. Maybe, you’d like to give it a try!

The Masters | John Bratby’s Sunflowers

John Bratby, Sunflowers I, Oil on Canvas

For our final week of Sunflower Month we will survey a few sunflower masterpieces–works of the sunflower masters that leave us in awe. We cannot possibly feature all the masters, so we will focus on [some of] those who are featured in my personal “sunflower collection.”

The sunflower art above is featured on the cover of Book of the Heart, so it is perfect for our first post of the week. The oil painting was one of many sunflower paintings by English artist John Bratby (1928-1992), best known for his central role in the Kitchen Sink School of Art, a style of realism active in London between 1952 and 1957.

We have reached the point in the pandemic at which we are all overwhelmed, anxious, and restless, so I will be sharing with this week’s sunnies selections from Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart: Meditations for a Restless Soul. In this collection Jon M. Sweeney and Mark S. Burrows “attempt to [re]voice” the mystic’s thoughts. I hope the posts brighten your days (sunflowers) and stills your soul (Eckhart).

“Sometimes You Have to Break Things”
Meister Eckhart | Sweeney and Burrows

It’s true:
Sometimes you have
to break things
if you want
to grasp God in them.
In the breaking,
we allow what is holy
to take form
in us.  

Be sure to click the links to learn more about Bratby and his art and be sure to join us for more, more, more brilliant masterpieces!