“In Solitude the Mind Gains Strength”

My day began at 5:00 a.m. after only three hours of sleep (last few days of class, lots of grading), so today’s post is short and sweet.

I share with you a “quote card” I designed last year– a bit of wisdom to carry with you through the week.

“In Solitude…”

Be sure to find a bit of solitude in the days ahead.

Liberate Your Art 2017: “Experiment, Play, Create & Liberate”

The LYA blog hop has begun!

As mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I participated in Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art swap again.  The swap has been running for seven years. I’d “just missed” the first year when I found out about the swap, but I’ve participated every year since.

This year’s stats:

876 pieces of art liberated
146 artists participating
12 countries
30 US states and territories

The words that make up Kat’s theme, “Experiment, Play, Create, and Liberate,” serve as “clues to an expressive, playful, and free approach to making art.” She encourages participants to “keep those four words with us over the next year as we create and share our art.”

I’m happy to report that I received all six unique pieces of art sent my way. [As usual, April is insanely busy, and I haven’t had a moment to stage and photograph the postcards in my environment, so please forgive me].

“Angles and Lines” by Christopher A. 

My first card came from Christopher of Michigan, a piece of art he created in December 2016. Christopher’s circumstances “made” an artist of him and compelled him to take a minimalist approach to art.  He works with what’s available to him–a pencil and a piece of paper folded to make a straight edge.

He shares a quote that appropriately captures his circumstances and his art:

I’ve wanted to somehow convey to you the sensations–the atmospheric pressure, you might say–of what it is to be seriously a long-term prisoner in an American prison.  –Jack Henry Abbott

A few days later, a little bit of Hong Kong graced my mailbox.  Kris sends “love from Texas,” but as she points out, the scene is clearly not Texas:

“Not Texas” by Kris Mc.

I love everything about this photo–the composition, the tone.  There’s so much story in this image!  You can find more of Kris’s stunning work on her blog, on Instagram, and on Flickr.

Greetings from Gabriola Island (Canada) came next.

“The Road to Cold Mountain,” by Paul T.

Paul had fun creating this piece, entitled “The Road to Cold Mountain.” I find it intriguing.  I’d love to know more about it!

Siobhan sent a calming photo postcard with a clock tower reflected on a rippling river.

“1902 Clock Tower” by Siobhan Wolf

The photo was shot at Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington.  You can find more of Siobhan’s work at Wolf Tales, her blog.  I love her signature line on the card… #bethelove.

Ella sent a whimiscal watercolor.

“Puff” by Ella L.

Ella completed this watercolor a few years ago.  She sends her card with wishes for the “joy of playfulness.” Ella is a freelance illustrator who works with children’s books and poetry among other things. You can find more of her work on her website: Ellapointe Studio.

If you’ve been following along for the last several years, you know Kat’s postcard always ends the swap.

When I retrieved Kat’s card, I had mixed feelings–excitement because the “long anticipated” Kat card arrived, but disappointment because the card meant the end of the swap and I have to wait a year before it comes around again.

Digital Painting by Kat Sloma

Kat surprised me this year.  Instead of sending one of her photos, she sent a colorful digital art piece.  I realize, though, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  She’d been posting digital paintings via IG: kateyeview.  Trees are one of Kat’s favorite things to photograph, so I like how this image pays tribute to one of her favorite subjects.

Thank you Christopher, Kris, Paul, Siobhan, Ella, Kat and all the other wonderful artists who courageously share your art.  Your creativity inspires me!

I am so grateful for you, Kat.  Thank you for consistently, patiently, and meticulously coordinating LYA.  Your work pushes all of us to strive for the best in our work as artists.

Fortunately, side swaps help us liberate even more art.  If you’re interested in swapping away those extras, let me know. I’ll post the postcards I sent on “Microblog Monday.”

If you want to see more “liberated art,” check out the video featuring art from some of the participants. For a more comprehensive view of the exchange, click the tiny blue frog below.

 

Until next time…create more art!

Wabi-Sabi: My Liberate Your Art 2017 Reject

The Liberate Your Art 2017 (LYA) swap has begun! I received my first postcard a couple of days ago and I can hardly contain my excitement as I wait for the remaining cards to arrive.

Some people begin posting their cards on social media and “side-swapping” right away, but I usually wait till the LYA blog hop to post and begin sending extra cards.  I look forward to “the surprises” and want to see the postcards for the first time when they land in my mailbox.

It doesn’t hurt to share a postcard that didn’t make the cut.  Right?

As usual, I had a hard time deciding which cards to choose for the swap, so I had a lot of different cards printed. The design below was an early pick, but after seeing it printed as a postcard, I changed my mind.

“Wabi-Sabi: Beauty and Decay”

There’s nothing spectacular about the original photo, but I liked it when I shot it last August. I was a bit fatigued after being in meetings all day and stepped outside to escape for a moment. The flowers provided aesthetic relief after being trapped indoors.  They were showing signs of decay, but there was something in their beauty that caught my eye that rainy afternoon.

“Beauty and Decay,” iPhone Photo

I edited the photo a half dozen ways using the iColorama app. This was a favorite:

“Beauty and Decay,” Edited in iColorama

Wabi-sabi: a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.  [Definition from WordStuck].

The Japanese principle of wabi-sabi provided the perfect expression for what I was hoping to capture in the photo–beauty in imperfection.  After adding “wabi-sabi” to the photo, I sent the photo for a photo inspiration swap hosted for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

“Beauty and Decay,” Edited in iColorama

The final edit (first photo) was colorful and cheerful, and I appreciate that it did not mask the imperfections.

Considering the message of the design, it is a bit ironic that this one was not chosen for the swap.  No worries though.  It has made its way into at least two mailboxes and I have a few more in my stash to share. 😉

Have a fabulous week!

Happy Spring: Education Outdoors

The weather today was (and is) too gorgeous for indoors.  By afternoon, I couldn’t resist, so a couple of my students and I decided to take education outdoors.

English majors discussing issues they’re examining for their final projects.

How did you celebrate the first day of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere)?

Love Inspired: Loyal Birds and “Fowl” Words

For a recent “Love Inspired” swap for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot Gale D., my partner, went birds and feathers on me.  The goal of the swap was to pair a love quote with an appropriate photo.

Gale settled on a quote from  A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

Some people care too much.  I think it’s called love.

Gale does a lot of bird photography, so she sent me two of her favorite photos.

The first, a pair of Mute Swans:

“Mute Swans” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

According to Gale’s note, the Mute Swans “stay together forever. It saves time and energy, and they produce more cygnets this way.  They make a great team.”

I found some interesting tidbits about Mute Swans on Cornell University’s All About Birds Site.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mute Swans are not native to North America
  • The swans pretty much mate for life, but will find another mate if a partner dies
  • Their reputation for monogamy along with their white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures
  • The Mute Swan is the “star” of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling
  • The swans are pretty aggressive (so give them lots of space)
  • The oldest known Mute Swan is 26 years, 9 months old

Gale also sent a pair of Canada Geese and their goslings.

“Canada Geese,” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

Gale wrote that she loves Canada Geese, but although they adapt around humans well, she hasn’t had much opportunities to get close to the geese.  Ironically, she lives in Canada.  This particular photo was shot in a cemetery pond.

There are a LOT of Canada Geese on the university campus where I work.  She’d have no problem getting up close and personal with them. During early fall, they pretty much rule the campus, even stopping traffic at times.  That can be annoying, but it is a pretty glorious sight to see them take flight in formation.

During the second year of their lives Canada Geese find a mate, and like Mute Swans, they are monogamous and mate for life.

It truly is inspiring to find such “faithfulness” and “loyalty” in the animal kingdom.  We often think so little of them, but we have so much to learn from them.

“It’s About Changing the Very Face of Power Itself”

Happy International Women’s Day!

-2017-

 

Soul Work: Making Art of Loving People

“Purple” Rose, Big Spring Park, Huntsville, Alabama. [Altered Photo]

As promised, here’s the “love post” I sent to family, friends, and swappers this year.  The card features an altered rose and a Van Gogh quote.

I found the rose last December showing off in Big Spring Park in Huntsville, Alabama. It was simply gorgeous and many people were pleasantly surprised to find its unexpected beauty.

Van Gogh offers more than a “quotable quote” here.  Instead of making a pithy statement about art, he uses art to challenge our notions of love.  Moving us beyond ideas of love as feelings and romance, he calls us to love in a way that an artist creates.  And that is anything but romantic or fleeting.

When we experience a finished work of art–visual, written or spoken, performed, musical composition–we respond with admiration or distaste without ever fully considering what the artist pours into the work or how gut-wrenchingly vulnerable it makes one to place the inner life on display.

When we truly love people, we are similarly crafting and creating, unveiling our most intimate self and making ourselves vulnerable to the scrutiny, judgement, and sometimes the disdain of others.  Our love for people doesn’t always mean they will love us back and though our natural inclination is to protect ourselves, we must learn to love them regardless…

This point was driven home for me and my little one last week, as he was present when someone disrespected me in a public forum.  Though angry, my little one emphasized that he “admired [my] restraint” because he knows that many people wouldn’t have taken it so calmly.  On our drive home we talked about where that “restraint” comes from.  I was honest with him. Some base part of me could have humiliated the man and “put him in his place,” perhaps deservedly so, but that this man could behave this way suggests that he needs my prayers, not my tongue.  In an instant during the exchange, I paused long enough to hear from God, check myself, and recognize in the offender the child of God who I am called to love.

Van Gogh is not speaking of simply loving people in our circles, those with whom we already share a heart connection, or those who are easy to love.  Nor is he simply speaking of a general, abstract love for humanity.  The artistry and mastery of love come as a result of loving through challenge and difficulty and loving people who aren’t loving, even people who can be mean and evil.  It comes as a result of seeing them as complex beings who, like a work of art, are more than what we immediately see.

Just as it takes more than a few strokes of the artist’s brush to create a masterpiece, it takes intense soul work and an intimate and constant connection with the Divine to make art of loving people.

Quotes and Hearts: Love on Postcards

I recall my glee the evening my hubby handed me the stack of postcards he had just retrieved from the mailbox and post office box.  I placed them in my planner hoping to savor them later, but then life happened–illnesses, midterms, and life in general.  Now, that the madness is less intense for a moment [Spring Break, yay!], I have time to really appreciate the postcards.

The postcards came from friends and Love Notes and heART Exchange pals.

The February 2017 heART Exchange focused on “Quotes from the Heart,”  so participants had to include a quote somewhere on the postcard.  I received postcards from two of my three partners.  I realized after receiving my third card that I submitted my address with the wrong zip code to Louise, the swap coordinator.  I used my P.O. Box address with my residential zip code. Duh! I’m actually amazed that most of them made it to me. Kudos to the USPS for the extra work they had to put in!

Nancy of Ellijay, Georgia sent a cute bunny with an inspiring greeting.

Love You Bunny, Art by Nancy F.

Love You Bunny, Art by Nancy F.

You are so special! Believe in yourself and the dreams you hold. Dance in the rain and play in the moonlight. Celebrate YOU in all your glory…Enjoy all the magic that life has to offer.

The happy-face rabbit gives me the warm-fuzzies.  Bunnies (rabbits) are among my favorite “critters,” second to teddy bears.  I especially appreciate the charge to “dance in the rain.”  I can’t wait till the weather stabilizes and I can do just that. There’s something cleansing about walking in the rain.  I imagine dancing in the rain is liberating.

“Lacy Heart,” Die cut by Lori W.

Lori W. of Elroy, Wisconsin sent the lacy heart reminding me that [life] is “about love, compassion, kindness, and faith.”  It is so easy lately to get caught up in trifles, so this was a needed reminder.   She also enclosed a tag which now fills a slot in my faith planner.

“You Are Loved,” Tag from Lori W.

Lori also sent a beautiful autumn postcard with vines framing a window.   How did she know about my romance with autumn? 😉

“Nature’s Décor,” postcard from Lori W.

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

Christine B. who introduced me to both Love Notes and the heART Exchange, made a sweet fabric postcard and sent it as an extra.

Fabric Postcard by Christine B.

Fabric Postcard by Christine B.

If you love someone, tell them because hearts are often broken by words left unspoken.

Martha, who participates in both swaps, sent another of her gorgeous watercolors.

“Nesting,” Watercolor by Martha Slavin

Your soul is the place inside of you which reaches out to connect you with the universe.

Slightly unrelated, a second Joy to the World card, from the December heART Exchange, winged its way to me from the United Kingdom last month.

“Wishing you Joy, Peace, and Happiness,” from Ann M.

Ann M. ran into a few snafus, and since she was sending the card after the height of the festive season, she remade it, modifying the colors.  As far as I’m concerned, blessing the world with “joy” is never out of season.

Love Notes also came in to help me celebrate “love month”–two from new penfriends, Sarah and Eileen, and one from Christine B. (whose postcard made the green-eyed monster appear because she was exactly where I wanted to be, on the beach in Florida). [Click an image for a closer look and details].

I was ill twice in February, so my friend Cy surprised me with a “get well” postcard.

“She stretched herself upon tiptoe and peeped over the edge of the mushroom and her eyes immediately met those of a large blue caterpillar.”

The postcard is part of the 100-postcard MacMillan Alice set.  The illustration is from Carroll’s manuscript for Alice’s Adventures Underground.  The timing of this postcard was perfect, not just because I was ill but because I had just sent the same postcard to a swapper who loves Alice in Wonderland. The mail gods sent it back to me. 🙂

Last, but not least, I received a unique handmade postcard from my penfriend, Beckra.

From Beckra

“The Workings of the Heart,” Designed by Rebecca R. (Beckra)

Beckra had fun making these cards for friends and family.  No two are alike. She created the texture by painting over text pages and threaded her design over the texture, allowing the diagonals of the threaded design to play against the straight lines of the text that are just below the surface.  Her goal was something “vaguely like a heart, but then abstracted.”

I thoroughly enjoy Valentine’s Day cards that deviate from the typical motifs–red hearts, flowers, and chocolate–so I’m loving this one.

My mailbox was full of love last month, and I did my best to reciprocate.  I’ll share the postcard I sent in 50 different directions tomorrow.

Until then, maybe you can take a few minutes and write a postcard tonight.  Someone in your life needs to be reminded that he or she is loved.

Hugs!

Microblog Mondays: Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Redemptive Power of Love

Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), From African Americans Book of Postcards, Pomegranate.

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

–Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

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A Gracious Good-bye

It seems everywhere I turn people are saying “good riddance” to 2016.  I’m sure they have their reasons. In many ways, 2016 was a hard, hard year, and 2017 provides the opportunity to put it all behind us with the hope of a “clean slate,” a new start, and another “chance” to get things right.

But I hope as we are saying good-bye to 2016, we reflect on the good that came with the bad: For every death, there was a birth; for every loss, a victory; for every failure, a success.  Even if we feel none of these positives, there are always lessons and gifts–even in pain, disappointment, and loss.

I encourage you to part ways with the “old” graciously.  Eventually, there will be reasons to look back fondly.