Gratitude and Grace | Start Here

Pumpkin Trio-1

I can’t help thinking no word will ever be as full of life as this world,   
I can’t help thinking of thanks. –Suji Kwock Kim, “Slant”

Since we are in the season of thanksgiving, my bestie enlisted a group of women in her circle to participate in a gratitude challenge this month. She shared a November calendar that offers daily prompts and invites participants to ponder on the things for which they are grateful. 

Indeed, it has been a challenge selecting just one thing daily, but that’s a good thing. It underscores a life overflowing with goodness, and I do not take that for granted.

What I really appreciate about the prompts is that they invite us to focus on experiences instead of material things. I am indeed grateful for the necessities and the creature comforts, but it is experiences, not things, that make a full life.

Thankfulness doesn’t have to begin or end in November, so if you’d like to start a gratitude practice, start with the simple prompts we used: Gratitude Journal Prompts.

Until next time…

Sunflowers & Snippets | There Will Be Times…

Sunflower by VAM-2

For our final “Sunflowers & Snippets” post I am sharing a piece written Wednesday evening–during the latest “Write Together” session. Since I had not participated since July, I gleefully looked forward to the session all day. Sadly, I found myself too exhausted to think clearly, so much of my writing that evening was incoherent. In reviewing my responses moments ago, I found some snippets of snippets that will be useful to develop later, but for now, my response to the prompt “There may be times…”  [ I changed “may” to “will,” because there will be times].

There will be times when you will walk alone, when no one will be able to join you on the road, escort you along the way, or stand with you and chat when you pause by the wayside to rest and refresh.

There will be times when the lessons cease, when the mentors and advisors will be unavailable, so you will reach deep within and draw from the store of good stuff built in you and the good stuff poured into you during times of community and song and celebration.

There will be times when you will find yourself removing heavy boulders from your path, but instead of feeling the strain of lifting alone, you will feel only the flutter of your heart dancing in the light of the moon.  –Chandra Lynn, “Write Together,” 10-20-21


About the Image: My hubby finally downloaded pics from his camera and “found” the gorgeous sunflowers he captured when we visited Scott’s Orchard last October. There’s something soulful about his images. This is one of five that are among my favorites, but I’ll let him share the others on his blog (hint! hint!–to him).

Sunflowers & Snippets | In This Very Moment…

Suzette's Sunflowers

I am back with another “Write Together” snippet. This piece was written in response to the prompt “In this very moment…”

In this very moment I am excited by the possibilities of who I am becoming. I am shedding the old casing, tossing aside ideas and versions of myself that no longer serve who I am in this moment or who I am becoming. Up to now, what has made giving up the former self so difficult is that she was good. She was organized, oh-so-together, and well-equipped for the journey—that bygone journey for a me that is skipping into the past of known worlds. This present me spends a lot of time in overwhelming chaos because transformation is not neat and tidy. It’s messy, confusing, and sometimes traumatic. But I’m learning not to fight it. I’m learning to partner with it in a new dance, a new becoming. I see glimpses of this new person. I can’t wait to meet her.  –Chandra Lynn, Write Together, 01.25.21


About the Image: Today’s gorgeous sunflowers were crafted by my Love Notes friend, Suzette R of Desert Blue Sky. She sent the oversized postcard because of my love for sunflowers and my enthusiastic response when she posted them on Facebook. Like many of us, Suzette is also processing grief. Part of her healing this year has been in planting and growing in her garden. Check out two more sunflowers from her garden: Here and here.

Sunflowers & Snippets | I Choose Pencil…

Kim B Sunflower in Vintage Vase 2021

For this week’s sunflower posts, I will be sharing sunflower photographs with snippets of my writing from “Write Together” sessions coordinated by Jennifer Belthoff of Love Notes fame. I don’t always have the time to participate in the weekly sessions, but every time I do, I leave refreshed and primed to work on my “actual” writing.

In the one-hour sessions, Jennifer facilitates three rounds of writing. She offers three prompts for each round, gives 8-10 minutes to respond to one prompt (or more) and then allows participants to share their material.

I enjoy the sessions because they provide a timeout for me, and though I do not attend as often as I wish, I am always amazed by how much writing I am able to do in those small moments.

Today’s snippet was written in response to the prompt: “I am choosing pencil.”

I am choosing pencil because few things are permanent, and so much changes from day to day as we navigate the terrain of a pandemic. I am choosing pencil because life is already hard, and there have been far too many deaths, far too many things we cannot reverse. I am choosing pencil so I can erase the parts that don’t fit, the nonsense and pettiness of the day to day, the meannesses that spill out at the end of a long, exhausting day or after another sleepless night. We need compassion and patience and forgiveness and so much love. Pencils are good for helping us revise or escape reality. I am choosing pencil because maybe, we can alter the pain and loss and write a different story. –Chandra Lynn, “Write Together,” 01.04.21

Ironically, typing this in a blog post makes it a bit less temporary, but I hope you get the point.

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About the Images: Today’s images come from my Love Notes friend, Kim B. The top photo features sunflowers in a vintage vase that travelled from her Nana’s house full of flowers to her house and back to her Nana’s for a refill. The bottom photo features an “amazing accident in photography” as she captured the bee in flight when her intention was to capture one of her homegrown sunflowers. The other happy accident happened when I scanned the photo. My “phone scanner” gave the photo a vintage feel. The sunflower itself is a little overexposed, so I’d planned to fix that for Kim in PhotoShop. However, I like the accidental effect offered by the scan, so I decided to leave it alone.

Love Notes!

Love Notes begins tomorrow!

Love Notes is a postcard project coordinated by Jennifer Belthoff that “encourages slowing down, getting back to basics, and connecting through handwritten notes sent through the mail.”  Participants sign up for the swap on Jennifer’s website and then she assigns partners–notified via email–who correspond with each other for three weeks based on a prompt she provides each Sunday. The swap is hosted a few times during the year. Although the swap has been going on for some time, I only recently heard about it through Christine B., a penfriend I met through Liberate Your Art 2016.

Postcard writers can respond to the prompt in any way they choose–sentence, paragraph, poem or list.

Angie, my partner for the July swap, lives in Tampa, Florida. She sent three postcards that had an element of “handmade.”  The  first one was the front of a greeting card, too cute to toss, and perfect for her message in response to the prompt, “Begin each day with…:”  Begin each day with hugs, flowers, and friends.

Hugs, Flowers, and New Friends

Hugs, Flowers, and New Friends

Angie’s week two card, art deco fashion, was also appropriately chosen for her response to the prompt, “Yesterday…Today…Tomorrow…” She wrote: “Don’t ever lose your sense of style!  Be brave…Be strong…Be bold…Always!”

Felt hat and purse with triangular decorations, 1928

Felt hat and purse with triangular decorations, 1928

Angie had fun experiementing with her new watercolors. This postcard is from Pepin Press.

And lastly, in response to the prompt, “In my next 30 years…,” Angie wrote, “You get to choose what you spread.”

Spread Kindness by Angie C., Tampa, Florida

Although most participants share their own art and photography, Love Notes may be handmade or storebought.  In fact, participants can send note cards or letters instead of postcards.  The idea is to send a handwritten smile to be found among all the bills and junk that clutter our mailboxes.

Through the Love Notes Facebook group I connected with other participants and exchanged additional postcards.

Joanne from Ottawa (Canada) sent:

With Love from Ottawa

“With Love from Ottawa,” Photo by Joanne.

She penned a Henry David Thoreau quote on the back: “To affect he quality of the day that is the highest of arts.”

Christine B., who regularly shares her photo postcards with Love Notes participants, sent two cards, one featuring purple hydrangeas.  She sent this one “in solidarity” after yet another police shooting of an unarmed African American.

Hydrangeas by Christine B.

“Hydrangeas” by Christine B.

After receiving a photo postcard from me of a tree with birds’ nests, Christine sent a card featuring a snow-embellished tree she shot last winter.  She sent her card with well wishes for the academic year and a quote:  “Courage is fear that said its prayers.”

A reminder that summer's over. Photo by Christine Brooks of Flagstaff, Arizona.

“Winter,” Photo by Christine B. of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Lorelei C., a paper artist from Pennsylvania,  kindly sent two handmade postcards with lyrics from songs–the  catchy Bobby McFerrin “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” [Click an image for a closer look]

Finally, Deb, an artist from Virginia Beach, Virginia shared her lovely postcard made with ink, a “Make Art” stamp, washi tape, paint, and glitter pen.

love-notes-summer-2016-9

“Make Art,” by Deb D.

Make art.  An elegant “mandate” that we craft and create.  No objections from me!  I love how Deb accented the postcard with a dash of color and some of my favorite washi tape.

I’ve been looking forward to Love Notes since the July swap ended. If you haven’t noticed, I participate in a lot of mail swaps, but what I appreciate about Love Notes is the opportunity to make a real connection with individuals.  Besides, I’m more than ready to give all the “thinking” and “doing” of the last two months a momentary rest and send more pretty out into the world.   Partners have been assigned.  Now, we just wait for the prompt.

If you want to see more Love Notes, check out the Facebook group or search the #lovenotesjb hashtag on Instagram.  Be sure to check back. I’ll blog postcards as they come in!

Happy Weekend!