Unexpected Joys!

Hi Friends!

The past few weeks, my heart has been filled with sweet memories of the beginnings of this quiet, little blog and some of the unexpected joys that it has brought into my life. It’s the perfect time to share the story of how Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes came to be! Enjoy a cup of tea as we reminisce and savor some photos from the blog archives…

Early in my ‘Renaissance’ (the ‘R’ word that I use for my Retirement), it was such a sweet treat to begin each day with an hour of visiting blogs. This morning ritual took me to faraway places and creative spaces, and introduced me to the most interesting people. As I got to know each blogger, it was always fun to join in the conversation by leaving a comment on each blog I visited. As time passed, I noticed that many of my favorite blogs were using WordPress as a blogging platform. Hmmmm… interesting!

One of my favorite, early morning stops was always Susan Branch’s blog. Susan has long been my favorite author and artist. The chance to soak up a bit of her inspiration and creativity was a perfect way to begin my days. The chance to leave Susan a comment and wait for her to reply was over-the-moon exciting. I had no idea how Susan wrote a blog, but it felt positively magical to me!

Just a few months later, I read that our wonderful public library was offering a WordPress workshop. πŸ™‚ Always curious, I decided to find out just how this blog magic worked! Perhaps I could just create a private blog using WordPress. No one could see it but me! So, I chose a simple, old-fashioned theme (just like me). It reminded me of a scrapbook page, with its ribbon banner holding a title. The tiny flowers in the header reminded me of paper cuts that might embellish one of my handmade cards. All of the ‘working bits’ were tucked neatly away in a slide-out sidebar. Hmmmm… fascinating!

When I showed my sweet husband all of the magical things I had learned at the workshop, he wondered aloud what I might write about if I had a blog. Hmmmm… just out of curiosity, perhaps I could write a pretend post! No one would see it.

A lifelong letter writer, my very favorite things to write were always long letters to friends. So, I just sat down and wrote a letter to a friend and within a few hours I figured out how to insert the photos. Later that week, I met with the technology director at our library one evening. Cher looked over my pretend post and said it was ready to publish. Publish? I was truly just learning out of curiosity!

“I’m kind of shy. I could never have my own blog, Cher.”

“Let’s just click ‘Publish’ together…

and see what happens,” she said.

So, (very bravely) we did.

I arrived home five minutes later

only to discover that someone in New Zealand was reading my story!

At that very moment, I knew that blogging was truly magical.

An unexpected joy!

When I showed my husband, he suggested that we go to a nearby Quilt Show that weekend so that I could write about it on the blog. He wanted to go to a Quilt Show?? (*wink*) Soon, we began planning weekend ‘Blog Dates.” πŸ™‚ An unexpected joy!

Still feeling shy, I decided not to tell my friends and family about the blog. I only confided in my dear friend, Cathy, who was enduring a very brave battle with ALS. I knew that the iPad attached to Cathy’s wheelchair allowed her to explore and experience the simple joys of life. Cathy began reading my posts and commented that they “felt like a walk in the park with a friend.” Happy tears! I discovered that a quiet, little blog could make a difference in someone’s day. An unexpected joy!

What fun it would be that very first summer as a blogger! I planned to stroll around my garden taking photos of my cottage perennial and herb beds. Oops! Suddenly, our quiet street was under construction and heavy, earth-moving equipment began digging up the entire street. Each night, they parked all of the equipment in front of our house. For many weeks, I would brave the dust to run out and take a quick photo in the early morning or late evening light. That summer, I learned the importance of close-up photography. An unexpected joy!

Spring Anenomes dance in the late May breeze.

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes continually inspires me to keep learning! Over the years, out of curiosity, I attended many more workshops at our amazing library. I wanted to learn about basic photo editing, personal branding, intellectual property, watermarking my photos, close-up photography, and writing memoir. At the library, I connected with others interested in blogging. Webinars introduced me to SEO and taught me to be intentional as I created the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of this little blog. There is still so much to learn! Currently, I am having fun exploring flat lay photography. Unexpected joys!

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes often challenges me to be very brave! Now I find great joy in sharing personal stories celebrating the small moments that make life oh-so sweet. Sharing my ‘One Little Word’ each year keeps me accountable as I grow in so many new ways. Publishing photos of my handmade cards and hand-lettered journal pages was scary at first. I’m so grateful for all of the kindness and encouragement here. Unexpected joys!

Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes has truly enriched my life! From the very beginning, blogging has felt just like being pen pals with the world. I am genuinely humbled that people from across the globe stop here to read my quiet stories. It has been such a blessing to meet so many delightful kindred spirits and new friends who gather here and join in our conversation. The seeds of many strong friendships have grown here over the years! It feels magical each time I meet a friend in person that I have known through blogging. I look forward to nurturing our friendships in the years to come! Unexpected joys!

A ‘heartstrings’ moment of serendipity happened two years ago at a Tea Party and booksigning with Susan Branch. (Remember that Susan was my inspiration as I tiptoed into the world of blogging. Hope you will take time to visit her blog. It’s truly enchanting!) This was the third time Susan and I had met and we always had something fun to talk about together. We had another lovely chance to talk together before Tea was served. Afterwards, a long line of Girlfriends chatted together, making new friends as we excitedly waited for Susan to sign our books.

I was absolutely stunned when Susan completely surprised me! Her kind words about Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes truly touched my heart. She spoke of this delightful gathering place, a lovely community of kindred spirits, and told me that she quietly visits my blog to read my stories.

Oh, my goodness!! β™₯ Be still my heart!Β 

A complete circle of love and kindness… and a most unexpected joy!

β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯

This month Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes

is celebrating its fourth birthday!

I can hardly wait to see what unexpected joys

it will bring in the coming years!

Thank you, dear friends,

for being a very special part of our celebration!! β™₯ β™₯


Scatter joy each day!

β™‘ Dawn

P.S.Β  I know that two of our dear blog friends are thinking about beginning blogs of their own. Let’s encourage them! One never knows what unexpected joys are waiting just around the corner! Hope you will share the magic of blogging in your comments! Inspiration is contagious…













28 thoughts on “Unexpected Joys!

  1. Dawn, that was truly a lovely sharing, a real autobiography from a really truly wonderful blogger! I am sure it will convince others to be brave and PUBLISH. I started my blog to share with my college roommate, who lived in Rochester NY, what was going on in my garden and some of it was meant to be tutorial in the early years. She caught the gardening bug! What a thrill it was to watch her progress in the garden. Sadly, she sucumbed to cancer a few years later, but I am still so glad we were able to share so much of the garden through blog posts.
    PS Yours is one of my favorites!

    • Oh, Jayne! I adore your reasons for beginning your blog. What a lovely gift it was to your sweet friend! I discovered your blog in the early days of my ‘Renaissance’ and always looked forward to reading about your garden. πŸ™‚ Now it’s always a treat to learn about gardening in Savannah in your new home. You really have a long gardening season now! Heartfelt thanks for your very kind words, Jayne! Wishing you happy days in the garden, my friend! β™‘

  2. A very happy 4th blog-versary, Dawn, with the hopes of many more to come! You bring joy to the world and lighten our lives.

    It was a delight to read about your journey, from love of Susan Branch to dipping your toes (or, should I say virtual pen?) into blogging via the public library, your joy of gardening and scrapbooking, and all things between. Thank you for sharing, Dawn, and for giving me a few moments to reflect on my own initial blogging steps more than 8 years ago. I still feel exhilarated when someone new pops up with a comment, or I meet someone in person that I’ve known on these virtual pages. Thank you for Petals. Paper.Simple Thymes.

    • Huge hugs, dear Penny! Our incredible public library helped me every step of the way as I tiptoed into the wonderful world of blogging. Each time I see Cher there, I thank her for giving me a little ‘push’ that evening four years ago! (Hope she will see this post!) Penny, I can still remember how much fun it was to meet you the first time (at the library!) after being blog friends for a long time! πŸ™‚ In fact, I was just thinking of you very early this morning as I walked on the beautiful path around the hospital after an early morning appointment. Wouldn’t it be surprising to meet on that path one day?

      Penny, I truly share your joys and exhilaration about blogging! I discovered ‘Life on the Cutoff’ years ago when I clicked on your comment on Jan’s blog. Your gift for storytelling is such a delight. You inspire me to treasure the small moments in each day. So important in our fast-paced world! You are also the best tour guide for beautiful, interesting places to visit nearby. I learn something new every time I visit! Perhaps our paths will cross at the Greek Fest this weekend?? It’s sure to be yummy, great fun… and HOT! Heartfelt thanks for always being here, dear one! β™‘

  3. Hi Dawn. Now I know why your blog looks so beautiful! You took classes! Susan actually was the one to inspire me, too, to start my Morning Musings Journal 2012. (I like to call it Journaling rather than Blogging). And you were the one I asked about how to enlarge my photos which led to me eventually discovering how to do it in Preview on my computer. I’m not surprised that Susan reads your Journal–what an honor. Did you see my post about her picnic at Castle Cottage?

    • I was just so curious to learn how Susan created such magic on her blog, Cathy! Learning something new each day is one of my goals for my Renaissance, but learning to blog was never even on my radar. It was truly an unexpected joy from the start and it feels like it will always be a part of my life!

      How wonderful that you were at the Castle Cottage picnic, Cathy!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to hear every little detail. I’ll come visit to catch up on all of your adventures. I’m really looking forward to peeking into your journal, sweet friend! If Susan only knew just how many people she has inspired over the years…
      We really do need to plan a HUGE Girlfriends gathering one day! #SBBooktoScreen Thanks so much for stopping to visit today, Cathy! I’m on my way to visit… β™‘

  4. That is a very incredible blog journey. My inspiration was my daughter’s blog. As I started she was my go to resource. She blogs less often now but I keep her blog on my sidebar listing just the same (Greens and Jeans). My blog has evolved especially since we moved from our home in the woods to our apartment in the sky – 11th floor – in the city of Columbia.

    • Who knows where the journey will lead next, Marcia? It is always filled with unexpected joys! It’s so wonderful that your daughter was there to help and inspire you as you began your blogging journey.

      Your blog was one that I visited early in the mornings so long ago, Marcia. It was fun to discover that we were both retired teachers, gardeners, and card makers! I remember your lovely wooded garden (and those hungry deer), your craft loft, and your adventures as you packed up to make the move to an easier lifestyle. I learned so much as I watched you downsize and begin a brand new adventure in Columbia, Marcia. Now I’m enjoying your travel adventures to some of my very favorite places in Europe! One of my favorite joys in blogging is meeting wonderful kindred spirits ~ like you! Wishing you happy summer days and beautiful walks in your favorite places! Thank you so much for sharing your journey today, Marcia! β™‘

  5. Dawn,
    Happy Anniversary! I’ve only been reading you for the past 2 years but I delight in your gardening and desert adventures. Thank you for inspiring me!

    • Oh, thank you, Karen! I’m sure that we also connected through Susan’s blog. I just love ‘walking’ through your beautiful California garden! πŸ™‚ I often think of you as I ponder more changes in my garden. Your decorating posts always fill me with inspiration, too, Karen. Isn’t it wonderful to discover so many kindred spirits scattered across the globe? Lucky us! Wishing you a delightful weekend, sweet friend! β™‘

  6. Congrats on your 4th Blog Anniversary, Dawn!! It’s always a pleasure to see what you’re up to and your lovely photos. Keep up your good work. Stay cool the next few days.

    • Many thanks, Aquila! I’m still enjoying writing and sharing… and learning. πŸ™‚ I truly wish there was time to post more often, but my days fill up so quickly now. We will certainly get a taste of Summertime this weekend! Triple digits! Let’s think cool thoughts and stay hydrated. I’ve been making extra ice cubes! Thanks so much for being here, Aquila, and joining in the conversation today! β™‘

  7. Dear Dawn, Your post today has made my heart sing! It was such a delight to read. And to learn how you started blogging. It’s so much fun to meet yet another ‘kindred spirit’ — that’s what I have loved, loved about blogging, meeting the many beautiful women who share their love of beauty and goodness around the world.

    I see we share similar interests — letter writing is one of my absolute favourite writing genres.

    What an unexpected joy your post has been for me today. And what an unexpected joy to learn about your connection with Susan — she’s a dear heart for so many of us. That must have been a moment of pure heaven!

    Congratulations on your blog anniversary — I wish you many beautiful years of scattering joy here in our blog world. Brenda xox

    • Oh, Brenda! You are so very kind! We are most definitely kindred spirits. I have always admired your positive, uplifting posts and always come away with something to think about. I’m quite certain that I found you through Susan’s blog long ago. She truly inspires so many people who appreciate the sweet, simple joys in each and every day. As Susan always says, “We are the normal ones.”

      My journey into blogging has been the most unexpected surprise in my Renaissance! πŸ™‚ It feels important to me, so it is well worth the big time investment. This quiet, little blog and the lovely people who gather here have become such blessings in my life. For me, the best part has always been reading everyone’s comments! The ‘comments’ come in so many different forms ~ emails, long letters, handmade cards, texts, surprise packages, and phone calls. Each one feels like a hug from a kindred spirit! Although I never know who is actually reading (unless they take the time to leave a comment), it tickles me to see all of the international flag symbols in my blog stats each day! Our world is so connected and it is a big responsibility when we make our voices heard beyond our borders. Hopefully, we can each be a small part of the change we desire in our world. Sending many blessings up north to Canada! Hope your days bloom and flourish with happy moments, dear Brenda! Heartfelt thanks for being here! β™‘
      #SBBooktoScreen πŸ™‚

  8. Dearest Dawn, first I must congratulate you on your forth anniversary! You have a heart made for sharing. I’m so glad Susan Branch inspired you and so many to connect through her blog and then begin blogs of our own. I’m always impressed by the beautiful heartfelt content you so beautifully write. It’s been an honor getting to know you. I wish you many more wonderful blogging years as you continue to share your heart with all of us, dear friend. β™₯

    • Sending huge, grateful hugs, dear Martha Ellen! Your sweet words always melt my heart! I know that Susan is very proud that so many kindred spirits who connected through her blog have become dearest friends over the years. These strong bonds of friendship are always a joy to behold during Susan’s book signing events and tea parties! I remember long ago how I wished we could share a cup of tea on your patio or share gardening tips over my garden gate. What fun it would be to share our garden journals and your travel journal from England! Our blogs have made us ‘virtual’ neighbors… and suddenly, the miles between Virginia and Illinois seem to disappear. πŸ™‚ Our blog posts feel like letters and our handmade, handpainted cards and long, lovely emails are the icing on the cake (with no calories!)! πŸ™‚ Friendships very often become real through the magic of blogging! Truly an unexpected joy!
      Wishing you a happy Father’s Day celebration on Sunday! I know that Grayden will enjoy his day filled with family fun!
      Heartfelt thanks for being YOU… and always being here, dear one! β™‘

  9. Happy Anniversary, and on top of that your gardens look beautiful. πŸ™‚ Now, if only, my local library had WordPress, SEO, flat photography classes, I’d be the first one in line. The first time I hit ‘publish’ I thought I was going to have a heart attack, and I must have checked the computer 20 times after that. πŸ™‚ I love the WordPress community – nice people from all over the world who stop by. Thank you for being one of those talented and nice people in my WordPress community. πŸ’—

    • Oh, Judy! I know just how you felt the first time you hit ‘Publish.’ So scary! You were very brave to do it on your own! I’m so happy that we both took the big plunge into the Word Press community. It’s hard to believe that you are writing two blogs now, Judy! Truly amazing!

      Our wonderful public library has been a constant blessing in my Renaissance! In addition to the new skills, it’s always lovely to meet like-minded people who are home during the day and share my interests. They also offer art classes of all kinds. You would enjoy the In Stitches group, where everyone gathers together to work on their own projects, making friendships and offering help along the way! If the library doesn’t offer classes on a topic, I find free resources online. I learned about SEO in a webinar. I found a nice tutorial on Flat Lay Photograpy online. So, I’ve been playing around as I photograph my cards. My three goals for my Renaissance have always been: learn something new every day, be creative, and continue to make a difference. It’s keeping me oh-so busy!!

      Thanks for always being here, Judy! You are such a wonderful kindred spirit! So glad we are friends! β™‘

  10. Oh Dawn, four years! Wow, congratulations. I’m so happy to have connected with you and perhaps you were thinking of me when you mentioned a couple of your readers thinking of starting blogs. You are my greatest inspiration. I’ve written a blog for my business in the past, and loved doing it. I just need to make it a priority now – and do it differently. I love the community you’ve gathered around you and I love getting such a powerful taste of your life each month. So lovely to learn of your blogging beginnings – so much synchronicity there and such a gift to you, but also to me and each of us reading. And it feels very fitting that as I’m writing this I had a phone call from my brother to tell me my aunt has passed. An aunt I’m close to – she was 95 and this was expected but she has been a huge inspiration to me about how to do the whole aging thing, and how to be in the world. Feels appropriate to be writing this on your blog as I’m feeling such inspiration from you too. So thank you for what you give me. xox

    • Vicky, I am truly humbled by your beautiful, kind words! What a gift is to wake up at dawn and find your note waiting for me! It means so much to know how much inspiration you find here, my friend. You are most definitely one of the friends that I encourage to begin a personal blog. πŸ™‚ As you can see, my path to blogging was completely unexpected. Inspired by Susan Branch and motivated by curiosity, I just tiptoed into the world of blogging, learning as I went along. I am so grateful that Cher (at our library) helped me take the giant step to publish my first little post. I continue to thank her each time I see her!

      Throughout my Renaissance, some chapters of life have become very busy. Although I began with weekly blog posts, the blog has followed my journey through the busy times when I am only able to publish once or twice a month. Yet each time I sit down to write, the unexpected joys of blogging fill my heart to overflowing!

      I feel proud of so many achievements in my life and this quiet, little blog is one of them. It has become a small part of who I am and how I continue to make a difference in our world. One of the best unexpected joys of blogging is the amazing connections I have made with kindred spirits, near and far. Such blessings, each and every one!

      I can’t wait to be part of the community that you gather around you through your blog, Vicky! You already know the mechanics of writing a blog. That experience will be so very helpful! We can (virtually) push ‘Publish’ together if you like. I promise to be the first to subscribe to your new blog. πŸ™‚ I’m so drawn to your writing, your adventures, and your unique perspectives on life. As you know, I have lived my entire life within a fifty mile radius of where I was born. My travels have most definitely shaped who I have become. You have lived on several continents and continue to travel around your beloved New Zealand. It will be lovely to learn more about what’s on your heart and to enjoy your beautiful photography. I cherish our long letters and always learn from you, Vicky. The entire world needs to hear your voice! You will find so much support within the WordPress blogging community! (I wrote this post for you, my friend!β™₯) Jump in!

      Vicky, I am so sorry to learn of the passing of your dear aunt. My dear Aunt Gilda was a huge inspiration in my life and the choices I have made throughout my life. Although she has been gone for many years, I still feel inspiration from her all the time. I know that it will be the same for you and your sweet aunt. Sending my heartfelt sympathy, friendship, and extra hugs to you and your family, dear Vicky. β™‘

  11. Dawn, it was a happy day for me when I discovered your blog. It’s so nice to read the origins of your blogging journey. I’m grateful to Cher for encouraging you to hit that publish button, as I know you are, too. What an absolute treat to learn that Susan Branch also reads your posts. That must have made your *year*. You have the ability to uplift with your warmth and charm. I’m so glad you’re here. Happy blog birthday! xo

    • Alys, we are kindred spirits who had the serendipity to connect through blogging! I’m sure that I found you through Cathy’s garden blog in Germany. Such a roundabout way to find an American kindred! πŸ™‚ As you can tell by my stunned look in the photo, Susan completely surprised me with her gracious, heartfelt words. I’m not even sure which Girlfriend emailed me this photo on the day of the Tea Party, but I am ever-so grateful! This special (funny!) photo has been in a frame on my blogging desk ever since. Although my blog posts are not as frequent as I wish, at the moment, they mean so much to me. I’m glad that I’m here, too! We’re in this wonderful world of blogging together, sweet friend! Thanks for celebrating with me today, Alys! β™‘

  12. Dawn!!!

    I know I don’t comment often- but I *do* read often and I hope you know how much I love reading your blog. This one in particular really made me smile. I. Can. Not. Believe. It’s. Been. Four. Years. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.
    Okay- I’ll go back to regular grammar now πŸ˜‰
    Congratulations!! My heart melted when I saw the picture of you and Susan…but especially when you described how Susan is now part of your community of readers!! It is a circle- and a beautiful circle at that! I know how much she has inspired you- so it was so heartwarming to see that you also inspire her. And of course you do!!! And I love how you explained your process…one step at a time takes you to where you are. I have an idea that I will share with you in my next actual mail letter to you. Wanted to congratulate you on your journey- may it continue to blossom into the future! Time for me to go to sleep πŸ™‚ Until next time!!
    Love, *Mo Rae

    • Such a happy surprise to read your comment, Mo!! I do know that you read the blog and I love all of our nice, follow-up conversations. Writing a blog feels a lot like being Pen Pals, just on a much grander scale. We are both letter writers at heart, sweet friend. I will always remember that wonderful day when we decided to become Pen Pals, Mo! πŸ™‚ Much like blog posts, I enjoy reading your letters again and again! Each one is a treasure. In fact, I’m looking forward to reading all about your Summer travels… and your newest idea! I also have an inspiring idea to share with you from our recent Illinois adventures. πŸ™‚ Until next time, Mo! Thanks for the wonderful surprise here today! β™‘

  13. It’s been awhile since I’ve visited, but I always save the emails about your new blog posts so I can read them when I find the time. I had to give up the blog I had started as I went back to work full-time, and recently I started a new job that has kept me even busier, but I can see myself coming back to the practice when I reach my Renaissance! In the meantime, I dream while I read yours!

    • It’s really lovely to hear from you, Ericka!:) I’ve missed reading your blog, Hanging Laundry on the Line. The first time I discovered your posts, I knew that we were kindred spirits. I’m certain that returning to blogging will be a special part of your Renaissance, too! It warms my heart to know that you save the emails until you can find time to read the blog posts. I do the same thing for a handful of my favorite bloggers! πŸ™‚ Thank you for taking the time to comment on each post you read, sweet friend! The comments from visitors are my very favorite part of blogging! They help us to learn and grow in so many ways. Such a great way to connect with kindred spirits! Perhaps you can keep a little notebook filled with your blog ideas along the way. It would be fun to look back and see how your interests change (or remain the same) over time. In the meantime, keep dreaming, Ericka! Plans and dreams keep us moving forward through each chapter of our lives! Wishing you happy Summer days, Ericka! β™‘

    • It feels like a little gift of time and memories, Ericka. It’s also a simple gratitude practice. I just love looking back… and remembering all of the small moments! We are definitely kindred spirits, my friend! Wishing you a wonderful week, Ericka! πŸ’—

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