Sunflowers and Connection

I participated in the latest round of Love Notes and made a new penfriend!

Peggy L, my partner for Love Notes 27, is a retired nurse who’s finding her way to other “identities” and embracing the artist within. Her messages were sweet and cheerful and I looked forward to retrieving each from my post office box each week.

In response to the first prompt, “I invite you to…,” Peggy wrote:

I invite you to believe that we are all connected and that we can and will change the world together. I invite you to join me in a peace army, a joy tribe, a group of women who KNOW that we are the answer we have been waiting for!

Isn’t this beautiful? It fits perfectly with the woman-empowered inspiration of my Women’s History Month posts. Also, thanks to this note, I finally figured out what to do with the beautiful love notes and messages I receive. Instead of keeping them in a box or album, I’m making them a part of my journaling. Yay!

I’ll be sharing Peggy’s responses to the prompts this week along with images that feature a couple of favorites we have in common–sunflowers and purple!


About today’s image: I spotted surprise sunflowers dancing in the wind while returning from an errand on campus. They were part of a giant bouquet placed near the entry to one of the dormitories. It was a happy find!

The person who placed the bouquet happened by and chatted with me while I photographed the sunflowers. She was torn. She wanted to take the flowers to her room, but felt it would be selfish. I assured her that since the flowers were given to her (instead of being tossed at the end of an event), she was not being selfish. I invited her to enjoy the flowers for herself! 🙂 Besides, cut flowers last longer indoors than outdoors.

“You Will Love Again the Stranger Who Was Your Self”

Love After Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. 

We take a lot of abuse as we try to get through this thing called life, especially if we want to live with as little “drama” as possible. Little by little we give bits of ourselves away and suppress the best parts for the acceptance of others, until there’s little trace of our beautiful, natural self.

We can’t quite love this crafted version of ourselves, but we struggle to recall who we really are. All is not lost. Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love” offers hope for the journey to self-recovery.

If your true self has lain dormant, but you’re constantly at odds with this alien self, I hope you will take the hard road of self-love. Stand up. Advocate for you. Fight for you. Unearth your true self. Find her in the mirror and learn to love her again.


Postcard note: The absolutely gorgeous sunflower woman came from Geraldine (Nannydino on swap-bot).  She has been supplying me with some of the most unique sunflower postcards lately. “The Sunflower” was created by Canadian artist, Gabiioartist. Her inspiration was, of course, the sunflower.

Pop Up, Sunflowers!

When I can’t be in the actual presence of sunflowers, perhaps, the next best thing is receiving sunflowers in the mail. I always, always, always squeal when I turn over a postcard or open an envelope to find SUNFLOWERS!

When I opened the plain white envelope from Janet T for the final note of Love Notes 25, I wasn’t expecting to find a sunflower.

And when I opened the beautiful brown card with the bright yellow laser-cut sunflower on front, I expected to find a note written inside, but…

 

…a whole sunflower field popped up!

None of my photos adequately convey the experience of opening the popup card, but you can probably figure out I nearly passed out with glee!

Here’s a little bit of the experience:

 

The card was designed by Kathie for lovepop.  If you’re interested in what inspired Kathie’s sunflower creation, check out the story by clicking here. And don’t miss the smiley face!

Sunflower week is over, but don’t despair! I have many more sunflowers to share. I’ll spare you another week of sunflowers posts [this year], but maybe, you’ll see one or two or three more before the end of the year.

Until then, shine on!

Sunflower Field in Autumn

“Sunflower Field in Autumn” by Diane W. aka midteacher

there is peaceful.
there is wild.
i am both at the same time.

nayyirah waheed, “sum,” salt

Today’s sunflower comes from my photographer friend Diane–midteacher on swap-bot. She continually inspires me with her beautifully crafted photos.

For “Sunflower Field in Autumn” Diane tried a creation process she had just discovered.  For this project she:

  • “gessoed” watercolor paper
  • pushed pearlized crackle paste through stencil
  • allowed to dry overnight
  • Used INFUSIONS color stain on background
  • allowed to dry overnight
  • glued photo; adhered paper and ribbon
  • allowed glue to dry
  • added sewing
  • glued cardstock to backside and trimmed

I get to be the “guinea pig” for many of Diane’s experiments with new techniques. Lucky me–especially when sunflowers are involved!

Thanks for the sunshine, Diane!

So Many Sunflowers…

Designed by Michele Frusciano for Pictura

My penfriend Christine has been my most prolific sunflower supplier. At least seven sunflowers on my wall came from her. This number does not include the gorgeous sunflower notecard sets she sent to be shared with others.

Some cards feature her photography. Some her watercolors like the two below. Some are store-bought like the one above. All of them bring cheer and brightness when days are far from sunny.

The card above, designed by Michele Frusciano, is prettier and more detailed than the scan. It is full of light and texture, not flat as it appears. The accents–lines, dots, diamonds, and squiggles–are a metallic blue and gold. The center of the bloom is navy blue and the bloom is embossed–or double embossed (is that a thing?).

Maybe, these photos give a better picture (no pun intended). [Click an image for a closer look].

The watercolor sunflowers below held a beautiful set of monogrammed sunflower notecards Christine purchased to support another artist.

“Quick Watercolor Sunflowers” by Christine

The sunflower sisters appear to be involved in an animated conversation.

“Inspired by Sheila D.”

For this one, Christine borrowed our mutual artist friend Sheila D’s idea of sunflowers in a vase.  She imitated so well that at first sight I thought it was from Sheila!

Sunflowers in vases always remind me of Van Gogh–whose sunflowers I hope to talk about later this week.

Each of Christine’s cards deserves its own blog post. So many sunflowers, so few posts. . .

They Lived “Their Brightest Lives”

“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.