Red Roses, Yellow Roses, and a Little Slice of Paradise

Recently–as in two months ago–my friend Kemi shared with me photos of the beautiful roses her husband gave her for their 21st anniversary.

That reminded me! I hadn’t hosted a “roses” photography swap in quite some time. In fact, it had been four years since I hosted the “One Perfect Rose” swap on swap-bot . We were overdue for another one–especially since I’ve been making progress on photographing roses. So…I set up the swap in the “A Thousand Words” group.

The goal of the swap was to send a photo that captured the sentiment of Dorothy Parker’s poem, “One Perfect Rose,” and write a note about a gift the sender desires from his or her significant other–instead of roses.

Diane W (Midteacher), my partner whose work you’ve seen here on the blog before, sent photos of her beautiful hybrid tea roses.

Hybrid Tea Rose, or Tahitian Sunset, Photo by Diane W. aka Midteacher

According to Midteacher, the Hybrid Tea Rose, dubbed “Tahitian Sunset,” is also described as a “little slice of paradise.” She fell in love with the roses while working at a local nursery to help pay for her wedding. A resourceful bride-to-be, she purchased the rose bush and had her florist make her wedding bouquet and other floral arrangements. She even worked extra shifts to make sure she’d have enough of the gorgeous tea roses.

“A Little Slice of Paradise,” Photo by Diane W. aka Midteacher

Midteacher snaps photos of the blooms every year and shares that the buds are much more colorful than the full blooms. In her usual impressive way, she crafted the photos into inspiration for my walls and journals.

I fretted considerably over which roses to send to my partner–raindrops on roses? white roses? pink roses? red roses? Roses I shot in New Orleans last winter? Roses I shot in Huntsville last spring? I can barely remember what I actually sent her since I looked through so many before making my decision. But I’ll save my photographs for another day.

Let’s give these beauties our full attention today.

Vintage in My Mailbox

It’s “hump day,” and as usual by midweek, exhaustion has a strong grip on my mind and body, so I’m dropping in with a quick post to share the vintage photography postcards I received yesterday.

The postcard below tells the story of my life–a book in my hand, glasses nearby, ever mindful of the time.

This one speaks to the creativity breaks I’ve purposefully taken to maintain sanity and balance–photo walks, capturing the splendor of autumn and the intriguing sights in the places I travel throughout the day(s).

Christine B sent both to me–the first one because she thought I’d like it, the second one because the camera and photos remind her of me. Of course, I love both because…there’s something about vintage photography. 😉

One of the things that attracts me to vintage and antique things is they have stories, and even if I don’t know the stories, I make them up. –Mary Kay Andrews

Until tomorrow…

Enjoy Your Trip to Porto!

Let’s take a trip to Porto!

My blogging friend, Louise, recently vacationed in Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. She kindly thought of me and sent two cheerful pieces from her travels–a brightly colored postcard and a bookmark that left me with a strong urge to take a trip to Porto!

Vintage Tram Car

The postcard features the Batalha 22 tram, one of the three “heritage” routes of the transportation collective in Porto,  Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (STCP).

The bookmark (probably) features the Ribeira neighborhood, a neighborhood filled with cafes, restaurants, homes, and a walkway along the Douro River.

The colorful buildings are so inviting!

These images offer a tiny glimpse of Porto. Louise’s photos tell a more comprehensive story, so be sure to check out her Porto blog posts, especially the one about the bookshop:

Enjoy the trip!

Motivation on a Monday: I Hope You Smile

I received a bright purple postcard recently, and without flipping it to the message side, I knew immediately who had sent it–Jacki, my purple-loving Love Notes pal who lives on the other side of the pond.

She wrote a nice, long quote on the back, perfect for sharing on a Monday.

One day it just clicks. You realize what’s important and what isn’t. You learn to care less about what other people think of you and more about what you think of yourself. You realize how far you’ve come and you remember when you thought things were such a mess that you would never recover. And then you smile. You smile because you are truly proud of yourself and the person you’ve fought to become.

I hope that you can smile when you look in the mirror today “because you are truly proud of yourself” and truly in love with the person staring back at you.

If you’re not there yet, wrap yourself in a little purple love, knowing you’ll get there some day.

Love. Shoot. Love.

Three months ago, my hubby and I had the honor of shooting the wedding of the daughter and son-in-law of one of my dearest friends. When asked, I was hesitant–wedding photos are serious business, and I didn’t want to be the cause of anyone’s tears or regrets re: wedding photos. Since the hubby agreed to shoot with me, I figured together we could get a few decent photos. Besides, I couldn’t say “no.” We’ve known the bride since she was growing in her mother’s womb, and her mother, Tee, is my sisterfriend (we’ve been holding on and praying each other through for 25 years now).

Inwardly, I “chickened out” a thousand times and tried to talk my hubby into doing it alone, but once we were on the road to Atlanta, I knew there was no turning back. Besides, I value my life, and I’m pretty sure Tee would have forgotten she is a child of God had I shown up at the wedding sans camera.

I’m convinced we prayed through every single shot. We wanted the photos to reflect the love between the couple as well as the love flowing from others to them. The wedding was work, but it was also fun. Hubby and I tag teamed, worked the bride and groom, their families, and guests concurrently, and coached each other through.

We ended up with thousands of photos, and surprisingly, there were more than a few good ones. In fact, there were a lot of great ones. We were pleased. The bride and groom were pleased. Most importantly, the mother of the bride was pleased. 😉

Here are a “few” of my favorite shots (You’ll have to forgive my partiality to black and white photos):

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There were really many beautiful and emotional moments, and fortunately, I was too busy for tears. There were so many times while shooting the wedding and reception that I remembered the little girl who explained to me the difference between Disney heroines; the preteen who argued persuasively while we walked the DC streets why kids would do a better job at running the U.S. government; and the teen who thought she would have better luck convincing me that she should go to boarding school than she had with her mom (I sided with her mom, but eventually she won).

Although I had just met the groom, his love for his bride was palpable and that was enough for me.

His Joy…My Strength

Joy is the atmosphere of heaven. It is the air God the Father Himself breathes in every day of eternity. And because joy is heaven’s delivered gift to me while I walk on planet earth, it is my delight and strength to experience the blessedness that God on His throne enjoys.   –Carol Burton McLeod, Joy for All Seasons

Other People’s Stories

Railroad Crossing: Shot at a Stoplight

Today, I listened to other people’s stories. Not by choice–mine or theirs. Circumstance required my presence, but I felt like a voyeur, listening in and observing private matters.

One person injured in a failed attempt to rescue someone from a kidnapper. Another the victim of domestic violence. A mom whose inability to say “no” to her son may cost her freedom.

Normal, everyday people whose lives “behind closed doors” rival the most titillating television drama. I sat wondering–not how their lives had gotten to this point, but at how easily a life can get to this point.

We’re all at risk. Not one of us is completely safe. One bad decision, one snap judgment, one wave of compassion or indignation can change the trajectory of a life.

Momentarily.

And that’s the good news. No matter what other people think or how much our lives change, that “one moment” does not define us, does not determine who we are or who we are going to be. The road back to “drama free,” to recovery, to redemption might be long and arduous, but there is a road back, a road away from, or a road forward.

Because I Love Sunflowers…

Love Notes participants are a creative bunch, and I always feel the love when someone crafts a card especially for me. That is exactly what Lori K did for the Love Notes 21, Prompt 2. After reading about my ❤ for sunflowers, she created a gorgeous autumn-themed sunflower card for me. Double love!

“Autumn Sunflower,” Card made by Lori K.

Lori sent the card with a long, newsy letter that ended with her response to the prompt, “Your history….”

Your history is what makes you who you are. The things you have gone through, both the good and the bad, have taught you how to be the caring and loving person you are. Enjoy each day and make more of your unique history.

Can we talk about how much this sunflower is saving my sanity?

The last five or six weeks have been challenging for my family. My dad has been in and out of the hospital. Worrying, waiting for news, and trying to figure out what’s going on has been emotionally taxing. He’s back in the hospital today, so this sunflower is a beautiful and much needed reminder to turn my face heavenward and trust that God’s “got this.”

Sunflowers normally find a place on the walls of my home and work offices, but I placed this one in my planner because I need to see it each time I open the planner throughout week.

Over the years, my friends–“in real life” and pen friends–have given me many, many sunflower notecards, postcards, drawings, watercolors, paintings, and photos. I’m grateful for the sunflowers, the beautiful messages all around me, prompting me to dwell in the light and stand tall and strong in the face of adversity.

Thank you, Lori. Your sunflower came at the right moment!

The Global heART Swap: More Love and Laughter

It’s time again to sign up for the Global heART/heART Exchange swap! The theme for November is “Thankful,” perfect for the last weeks of the year when many of us are counting our blessings and working on gratitude lists.

The card below was made by Connie F for the August round. I received it some time after I’d blogged about the other postcards, but I was happy to add this fanciful piece to my “Live-Laugh-Love” collection. I also appreciated the note Connie included about her recent trip to South Africa and its impact on her life.

“Live-Laugh-Love,” Art by Connie F.

Louise Gale, the swap coordinator, inspires artists, collects and coordinates participants’ information, and assigns partners.  For the exchange, participants create art based on the assigned theme and send to three partners; they also receive art from three different partners. The art can take any form–drawing, collage, sketch, photography, mixed media, coloring, watercolor, stamping, and so much more.

The only rule is that you create with your heart open and include a positive note for the recipients on the back of your postcard or as a little love note inside. –Louise Gale

The swap provides an excellent opportunity to exercise creativity and share a heartfelt message. If you’re worried about your art skills, take it from me, this swap is about heart, not about masterpieces.

What are you waiting for? Head on over to Louise Gale’s site for the details. Sign up ends November 12, so hop to it!

Start With…

Love Notes 21 ended a week ago (or has it been two weeks?). I got a bit off track this round, but today I made significant progress by getting most of my cards in the mail. Finally. I think I’ve earned the “right” to post about the round this week.

As usual, Jennifer Belthoff, the swap coordinator, sent prompts weekly for three weeks. Prompt 1 was appropriate: “Start with…”

My partner, Lori K, crafted a whimsical postcard that still tickles me.

“Three Little Birds,” Handmade Card by Lori K.

My hubby, son, and I had so much fun giving each bird a story.

Her message to me:

Start each day with a happy thought and a smile! It will put everyone around you in a good mood.

Lori is a scrapbooking, stamping, card-making diva. You can see her work on her blog, Lori’s Creations.

I received extra Love Notes from postcard pals. Their thoughtfulness never ceases to amaze me. Each sender seems to handpick the cards to suit my tastes and interests.

Christine B. sent a photo of the moon setting on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Maybe, you remember my connection to the moon?

“Setting Moon,” the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, Photo by Christine B.

She penned wise counsel on the back, “sealed” with her signature green star:

Start with a prayer…Then, be ready for anything. Life dishes out lots of stuff. Try to keep a positive attitude. That helps.

For my art-and-poetry loving, woman-centered soul, Litsa L sent a postcard featuring the art of Czechoslovakian Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

“Poetry from the Arts, 1898,” Alphonse Mucha, 1860-1939.

In the piece,

Poetry is personified by a female figure gazing at the moonlit countryside in contemplation. She is framed by a laurel branch, the attribute of divination and poetry. —Mucha Foundation

Litsa advises:

Start with the beginning. The journey follows. Sometimes, there is an ending, sometimes another beginning, but always a journey.

For my love of trees and autumn, Lisa C sent a “whisper of fall” from her backyard:

“Whisper of Fall,” Photo by Lisa C.

She had a short poem imprinted on the back of the postcard. I assume she wrote the poem (?). 

Tall and regal.
Roots grown deeper.
Each leaf has its own character.
Essence of life.

She added her response to the prompt:

Start with a single tree…and some day a forest will grow.

You can see more of Lisa’s beautiful photography and musings on her website, Wandering Shutterfly.

Stay tuned. I’ll share postcards for prompts 2 and 3 later this week.

Until tomorrow…