Believe it or not–I actually made a general plan of poems/poets to share on the blog this month. However, I can count on less than one hand the number of times I stuck to the plan. Today, my plan for sharing a longish poem by Nikky Finney transformed to sharing the shortish poem below by George Douglas Johnson (1880?-1966).
Johnson was one of the writers featured in my [so-far-unfinished] Women of the Harlem Renaissance series a couple of years ago. The poem seems fitting for my present circumstance and mood–cooped up in a small space in my home office–cornered by books, research, notes, and creative projects–working feverishly toward freedom from all the demands, ready to fly.
Your World Georgia Douglas Johnson
Your world is as big as you make it.
I know, for I used to abide
In the narrowest nest in a corner,
My wings pressing close to my side.
But I sighted the distant horizon
Where the skyline encircled the sea
And I throbbed with a burning desire
To travel this immensity.
I battered the cordons around me
And cradled my wings on the breeze,
Then soared to the uttermost reaches
With rapture, with power, with ease!
About the image: The postcard featured in this post was sent to me a decade ago by a swapper named Noni, an artist who seemingly no longer participates on swap-bot. I don’t know much about the art, but I assume Noni made the postcard. She wrote on the back of the card our beloved Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,”–a poem that doesn’t feel as hopeful as Johnson’s but is nevertheless moving.
One of the items I’m patiently waiting to check off my “bucket list” is a visit to one of those huge sunflower fields that goes on for acres and acres and acres. My guys and I happened upon a small one here in Northern Alabama a couple of summers ago, but I’m looking forward to “losing my mind” in a “goes on forever” field of sunshine. The fields of Tuscany are the dream, but that will take $$$ and careful planning. I learned recently that there’s a sunflower field in Autaugaville, Alabama, just a few hours away, so it is on the summer-to-go list.
Until then, I visit sunflower fields through YouTube videos, photographs, and postcards. I received one such postcard from my Love Notes pal, Trang K, a few months ago. The gorgeous field of sunflowers of Door County, Wisconsin brightened my mailbox and my heart.
A field of sunflowers bloom on a traditional small family farm in northern Door County. The landscape is rich in stunning beauty with orchard lined roads, quaint villages, and miles of picturesque shoreline. Artwork: Derivative work based on an original photograph by Christopher Arndt.
As you can see, Trang “planted” a twinkling tulip in the field and wrote a sweet note with a nod to the memory of my sister Lori, who loved tulips:
Amidst the sunflower fields of your heart, there are always tulips to be found.
Let your spirit glow and dance. Let your soul swoon and soar. Be one with the Sun, flower of your heart.
Isn’t that a beautiful message? It still warms my heart.
Note:Yesterday’s blog post strangely went “missing” for a few hours, so maybe you missed it. If so, click the previous post and check out Lori-Anne C’s stunning sunflower work. Even though the scan isn’t great, you will not regret it. 🙂
“The Gray Wolf,” Endangered Species. Photo by Tom Brakefield for Impact Photographics. Dedicated to the preservation of nature.
I received the “gray wolf” postcard above for Love Notes 29.1. At first, I was so focused on the message that I did not see the rabbit the wolf is pursuing!
I know this is how things work in the animal kingdom, but this is a poor, defenseless bunny! 😩
The first prompt was, “Don’t be afraid to…,” so Kasey, my partner, shared three bits of advice:
Don’t be afraid to:
Step out of your comfort zone. Oh, the possibilities abound! How will you ever know if you don’t try?
Stop and smell the roses. Life is too short to not make the most out of it.
Take the road less traveled. Who knows? It could be the best one you’ve taken yet!
I’m not sure why Kasey chose this card for the prompt, but I’ve come up with an explanation that satisfies my need to have the bunny survive the ordeal.
Maybe, the little rabbit went out into the world to conquer his fears. He “stepped out of his comfort zone” and took “the road less traveled.” He knew there would be dangers and tests along the path, but he “stopped to smell the roses” anyway. That’s what creatures do when they live outside of fear.
You see? This isn’t the end of the rabbit’s story; this is just one part of the journey. The struggle heightens his awareness and pushes him to develop strategies and tools to avoid such pitfalls in the future.
The little rabbit will have a fuller, deeper life because he faced his fears!
As for the wolf…he found something else to snack on. 😉
From postcard back: The Gray Wolf (canislupis) mates for life and lives in packs of family members and relatives. The strongest male is the leader of the pack and all the members help to care for the young.￼ The pack will work together on a hunt by chasing down its victim or driving it to circle back to the waiting pack￼. They can gallop and bound over short distances at speeds of more than 30 mph, and if they cannot capture their prey, they will abandon the attempt.￼
“Starfish and Seashell,” Photo by Catwoman. Postallove.com
“If I had an extra hour every day I would…”
That was one of the topics for “Postcards with Prompts,” a fun swap-bot postcard series I participated in last year.
Swapper Susan sent the beach-themed postcard above with her response:
If I had an extra hour every day, I would go to the beach and walk on the sand and in the water and collect shells. I love the beach and I don’t go there often enough.”
I can certainly use an extra hour each day. I would use it wisely, of course, and take the extra hour to sleep or read for pleasure. From August to May, there’s never enough of either, and I literally dreamof getting sleep and reading something that I don’t have to think about once I turn the last page.
I love the ocean, though, so maybe, I’d simply sit quietly at the beach. I’m certain of one thing–I would not squander my extra hour on work. There’s always too much of that!
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
–Socrates, character in Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman, 1980–
About the Image: My Love Notes pal and literary twin, Bianca, sent the postcard above for International Women’s Day. I admired the postcard on Instagram, but had no idea it was winging its way to me. It fits perfectly with the Words and Art series. The purple, happy naturalista dance for me!
The postcard arrived in pristine condition because Eileen placed it in a bright red envelope and stamped it with a breathtaking Chagall image.
[Enlarged for detail]
I think she was trying to send me over the moon for the holiday season!
The stamp features a small part of one of the nine stained glass windows Marc Chagall (1887-1985) completed for St. Stephan Church in Mainz, Germany. The image depicts Mary cradling Baby Jesus with an angel hovering above them.
Chagall worked on the windows from 1978-1985, completing them shortly before his death. They feature themes common to Christians and Jews and serve as Chagall’s contribution to reconciliation between the two groups.
It’s not what’s under the tree that matters; it’s who’s gathered around it. -A Charlie Brown Christmas-
Today’s Christmas postcards were designed by Liberate Your Art and Love Notes friend, Suzette R. I couldn’t resist sharing her 2017 postcard (bottom) along with her 2018 postcard (top).
The Charlie Brown quote above was hand-stamped on the back of the 2018 card:
The dreamy photos take me back to childhood Christmases with all my sisters and brothers gathered around the tree wondering which packages contain our gifts. Many of us have our own stories of childhood and Christmas, so they’re perfect for a [not-so] #WordlessWednesday.
You can find more of Suzette’s gorgeous photography and other creative work on her blog, Notes from the Road.
“The Brightest Sunflower.” Photograph by Eileen V.
despite knowing they won’t be here for long they still choose to live their brightest lives
rupi kaur, “sunflowers,” the sun and her flowers
Today’s sunflower love features the photography of my Love Notes friend, Eileen V. She captured the sunny bloom while out and about with a friend and sent the card with hugs, strength, and hope in light of Lori’s passing.
Eileen wrote that whenever she sees a sunflower she thinks of me and her daughter, Alanna, who also loved sunflowers.I did not miss the “past tense” in Eileen’s mention of her daughter, and I learned shortly afterwards that she lost her daughter some years ago to a tragic accident. It’s bittersweet to share a precious connection via sunflowers, and when I see them, I will think of Eileen and Alanna.
My heart breaks. It breaks for all of us who have lost someone dear to us. But it comforts me to know Alanna, Lori, and Karlette lived “their brightest lives” and touched so many hearts during their brief sojourn in this world.
My penfriends have been showering me with sunny blooms and sending beautiful reminders to “face the sun,” so my sunflower wall is growing beautifully wild. I’ll have to share an updated photo soon. Until then, I’ll continue to share the individual postcards on the blog.
About a week ago, I received a postcard from Geraldine (Nannydino on swap-bot) that offers a unique interpretation on the sunflower theme. Instead of growing in a field or sitting in a vase, the sunflowers appear to be growing out of a human.
“Sunflower Humans” by Priyanka Parul
Pretty interesting. Right?
“Sunflower Humans” is the work of Priyanka Parul, a young artist from Mumbai, India. I love how the human face is replaced with or masked by sunflowers. Are they human? Are the sunflowers a gift? Symbolic of a sunny disposition? A reminder to “radiate sunshine” from the inside out? I’d love to know what Priyanka was thinking when she conceived this piece.
In my search for information on the piece, I ran across a post written in 2016, “Are You a Human or a Sunflower.” There are some conceptual similarities, so I wonder if the artist was inspired by the post.
I hope you have your shades nearby. You’ll need them for our final week of sunflower posts for the year.
May you have a week filled with sunshine and good things.