Hi Friends!

April showers have continued to drench the Midwest throughout May this year. We have already endured seventeen days of rain this month. Our rainiest May in 149 years has kept most gardeners indoors, as we study the weather forecast daily hoping for sunshine and warmer temperatures. Each day, our hearts have been heavy for those who are truly suffering in the aftermath of severe flooding and destructive tornadoes across our country.

May is always my very favorite month in the garden. Alas, this year’s Garden Journal holds only sparse notes of an hour here or there: tidying up the Herb & Tea garden, emptying the rain gauge, sweeping the Elm and Maple seeds from the front porch, and cutting bouquets of Lilacs and Lily-of-the-Valley. Mowing the lawn between rainstorms has taken a bit of strategic planning!

However, with our abundance of Spring rain,

Β all of the blooming trees are just glorious!

While dreaming of sunshine,

I have been gathering inspiration on impromptu Artist Dates. πŸ™‚

I took an early morning walk through a favorite park during Lilac Time.

Although I went to enjoy the beautiful Lilacs…

it was the magnificent Tulips that captured my fancy.

As I wandered through the park,

I gathered new inspiration for watercolors and ink combinations.

The designer who planned these sweeping beds

last Fall truly had an artistic vision!

As I paused to soak in all of Nature’s beauty…

I was inspired to make notes about ink colors.

Very soon, my little Paper Garden studio downstairs

will be blooming

with stamped, layered flowers for handmade cards.

Rainy days seem to call for a cup of tea, a cozy afghan, and a good book. I just finished reading The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker. The author brings a fascinating background and her expertise in conflict resolution to this engaging book on creating transformative gatherings of many kinds. Priya Parker dives deep into many different types of gatherings throughout the world designed to intentionally bring people closer. Whether we gather for business meetings, family reunions, weddings, birthday celebrations, to mourn, or to experience something new, the author takes us step-by-step through the art and science of planning truly memorable gatherings.

As I read, I reflected on so many different types of wonderful gatherings over the years ~ those powerful moments in my primary classroom, inspiring workshops, unique gatherings of friends, and our most heartwarming family gatherings. We can all remember those very special, often unexpected gatherings that impacted us in powerful ways and created lasting memories.

Priya Parker teaches us that these transformative gatherings begin with an interesting purpose that matches a true need in our life. She shares ideas that help us understand who to include and who to temporarily exclude when planning purposeful, powerful gatherings that bring people closer together and inspire us to take action.

Oh, my goodness, I made notes as I read. I have always dreamed of bringing together the special people in my life who have never met one another in purposeful, small groups. πŸ™‚ With thoughtful planning, just imagine the conversations and inspiration that would happen at such gatherings! β™₯

(Watch Priya Parker’s recent TED Talk here. It’s wonderful!)

Although I read The Art of Gathering on my own, I think it would make a very interesting Book Club selection. Readers would be able to share past gatherings and what made them so memorable. Creating events that bring people together with a unique purpose can have lasting power!

As I read The Art of Gathering, my thoughts also turned to our little gathering place for kindred spirits here at Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes. β™₯ Our quiet, little blog is five years old now! πŸ™‚Β  (You might enjoy reading about how our blog began in this post.)Β  I’m so very grateful for the old friends who have been visiting from the very beginning and the new friends who discover us and and join in the fun. I love to learn from you and am inspired by all that you share in your thoughtful comments. I truly appreciate you spending a bit of your precious time gathering here with us. YOU are often mentioned on the Gratitude page in my journal. Heartfelt thanks for always being here!

In anticipation of our 5th Anniversary, I have been making some changes behind the scenes here. There is a brand new About page. I have updated the Inspiration page and have included a few Podcasts that I’ve been enjoying lately. The Favorites page contains two fabulous, new stamp companies that have won my heart with their unique designs and truly wonderful customer service. The Say Hello page is an easy way to reach me anytime via email.

I also added a new Category, making it easy to search for blog posts that interest you most. In addition to Petals (gardening posts), Paper (cardmaking, bullet journaling, watercoloring posts,…), and Simple Thymes (life’s simple pleasures, family stories, antiquing, nature walks, travels,…), we now have an Inspiring Books category. Searching Inspiring Books will pull up all of the posts about books that have moved me to take action. These books taught me wonderful lessons and prompted me to make real changes! I hope that you will find them valuable, too.

It is our gatherings and connections that make life extra-sweet. Although I love the creative process of making cards, my very favorite part is sending my cards off in the mail to touch hearts. Although I am energized by the creative process of writing and shooting photos for each blog post, I find true JOY in our connection in the comments that you leave here. I love taking the time to read and answer each comment. I hope you feel comfortable chatting with one another here, too! Kindred spirits always gather here… and that’s something truly wonderful to celebrate! β™₯

Just wondering

β™₯Β  What gathering has made an unexpected, powerful impact on you? What made this gathering different from all of the others?

β™₯Β  Do you prefer gathering with people who are much like you or do you enjoy meeting people who are different, yet open to a shared experience?

β™₯Β  Do you find large gatherings or small gatherings more enjoyable?

β™₯Β  Is there a special gathering that you would love to plan some day?

Hope you will share your thoughts with all of us…


Please stay safe throughout this long, holiday weekend,

especially if dangerous weather threatens.

Let’s take a moment on Memorial Day to honor all those

who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy every day.


With love and gratitude,

β™‘ Dawn









13 thoughts on “Gathering…

  1. Dawn, this post sure hit home! I ordered The Art of Gathering on AmazonSmiles (they donate to charity) and it should arrive tomorrow! My personality is such that I love gatherings of all sizes! Within big, I always seem to find the small. When I travel, I love to see all beautiful places around the world, but what holds in my memory are the experiences with the people I am traveling with or the new people I have met!

    • Oh, Kim! You, my dear, are the Queen of gatherings! We all LOVE to gather around you. Your insight, “Within big, I always seem to find the small.” is what makes gathering so meaningful and memorable. Can’t wait for your book to arrive! I think you will find Priya Parker’s ideas fascinating. Let’s gather on the front porch for tea and share our thoughts on The Art of Gathering. πŸ™‚
      Sending extra tight hugs from our hearts to yours! β™‘

  2. Wish I could share some of our hot, very dry weather in the “lowcountry” of SC with you. We need rain badly! The pictures are gorgeous in this posting, and I love the little romantic May pages of your art journal. Just beautiful!
    A memory of a gathering I didn’t particularly want to attend came to mind as I read this post. I went because I was dating a guy who wanted to attend his Citadel reunion. Consequently, I gained a precious friendship with his college roommate’s wife who later admitted that she also had attended reluctantly. Sometimes the very things that we don’t want to do have wonderful, happy results like a 15-year friendship with a dear, kindred spirit.
    Hope you all have good weather very soon, and enjoy this wonderful holiday weekend!

    • Doesn’t it seem like all parts of the country are experiencing weather extremes, Kathy? So far, we are just inconvenienced here. Our rivers and creeks are quite high at the moment. We are hoping for more normal weather patterns very soon! I have seen the hot, dry forecasts for South Carolina. Wish we could share some of our rain!

      Thank you so much for the encouraging words, Kathy. Inspired by my garden, I’ve been trying to practice a bit of botanical drawing in my journal. In March, snowdrops made an appearance. In April, I illustrated tulips. This month I’ve been trying to draw Lily-of-the-Valley (and picking bouquets of them, too!). I’m working my way up to Hydrangeas! πŸ™‚ I am truly just a beginner and doing a very brave thing by sharing the artwork in my journal.

      Oh, Kathy! I just love your story of the Citadel reunion! Kindred spirits have a special way of finding one another in the most unexpected places. Your act of kindness was rewarded with a precious friendship that has blossomed over the years. Thank goodness you both agreed to attend that reunion! πŸ™‚
      Happy Memorial Day weekend, Kathy! Heartfelt thanks for being here and joining in the conversation today! Sending raindrops for your garden! β™‘

  3. Dearest Dawn, I’ve thought of you and the challenges of the endless rain in your area. What crazy weather patterns we all have endured. I really enjoyed seeing the beautiful tulips you have seen on your walks! How lovely they are. I am unable to have them in my garden because of critters that seem to enjoy them before they bloom. I have surrendered to planting only those plants that I know will enjoy my garden without much disturbance.
    Being an introvert makes it hard for me to say I love gatherings, besides my family. I have bitten the bullet many times and gathered with like minded folks and enjoyed it. I always enjoy reading what you are doing and enjoy gathering here with you! Sending sunshine to you, my friend. xoxo

    • So much wild weather everywhere, Martha Ellen! We have been watching the weather move through Virginia in the past weeks. I always watch for the weather in your area and in Richmond, too! Those amazing Tulips in the park gave me much inspiration for new color palettes as I stamp and watercolor. Have I ever told you that the Tulips in my garden were here 32 years ago when I bought my little home? I have no idea how old they actually are! I’m afraid to disturb them. Fortunately, the squirrels haven’t disturbed them, either!

      Your family gatherings are so thoughtfully planned, purposeful, and create amazing gifts of special memories for all of your grandsons. I know that they realize how much they are loved! They just adore their times with you and Grayden. Gathering at our favorite blogs is such a lovely way to build strong friendships across the miles. We really do know one another’s hearts, dear friend. Deep friendships blossom through our long letters and blog comments over the years. I’m so very grateful that we have connected through this special type of gathering, Martha Ellen! πŸ™‚ I can’t imagine life without my wonderful ‘tribe’ of kindred spirits here. You add ‘sunshine’ to the rainiest of days! Big hugs for you and Grayden this holiday weekend! β™‘ P.S. I promise a letter very soon! β™₯β™₯

  4. What a lovely post. Congrats on your 5th anniversary. Your space here in blogland is so soul satisfying. Lots of interesting conversations and images and photos. I’m going to look for The Art of Gathering. Sounds most interesting. We’ve been praying for rain here in northerly Alberta, and I hope you get some sunshine soon.

    Wishing you a beautiful day, Dawn.

    • Your kind words make my heart smile this morning, dear Brenda! Isn’t it lovely that we have created special gatherings of kindred spirits through blogging? With Susan Branch as our ‘gatherer in chief,’ the world is a much sweeter place!

      I think you will be fascinated by The Art of Gathering. If you search for Priya Parker on You Tube, you will find some interesting interviews and see her at work in different gatherings. She has done impressive work on race relations, peace processes, helped elected leaders, educators, and corporate executives, as well as creating transformative social gatherings of all sizes. Priya Parker teaches us that the ‘art’ of meaningful gathering goes WAY beyond the menu, the decorations, and the guests. She takes us step-by-step through the thought process as we plan all types of gatherings. The way in which I plan our gatherings will be forever changed! I’m so grateful that our library has several copies of this book!

      I wish I could send some of our abundance of rain for your gardens in Alberta. Our unsettled weather pattern continues into the new week with only one sunny day in next seven days. Thank you for being here, Brenda! I’m so blessed to have discovered a kindred spirit in northerly Alberta through the wonderful world of blogging!
      Warmest hugs!πŸ’—

  5. Happy Anniversary. πŸŽ‰ For many years, I enjoyed yearly family reunions with my husband’s family, but as the years passed, everyone aged, and those stopped. Now, I think I look forward to the senior community that I spend three months with in South Carolina. I enjoy people who like to do similar things, but I also enjoy people I can learn something from. πŸ™‚ I’ve been thinking about you the last couple of days when I’ve been pulling weeds and trying to figure out how shrink my gardens some more, but I’ve reached a point where I’m not able to find ways to cut back unless I remove large foundation beds and let it go back to grass which might be pretty ugly. πŸ™‚

    • Many thanks, Judy! β™₯ Your special South Carolina community has come together in such special ways over the past few Winters. Isn’t it amazing how many kindred spirits you have connected with so quickly? Your friendly, curious nature draws you into wonderful, new adventures!
      You and I are both having similar thoughts as we pull weeds in our gardens, Judy! I think I have made a BIG decision about further downsizing my garden. I just have to think about it a bit more before I take action! Now whenever I see Korean Lilac shrubs, I think of you, Judy. They will very likely be a part of my new plans! πŸ™‚ Let’s encourage one another to take steps to ‘right-size’ our beloved gardens, my friend. The hours of gardenkeeping will only become more challenging in the years ahead. Wishing you nice, sunny days in the garden, dear Judy! β™‘

    • Oh, Ericka! Priya Parker has so many interesting ideas about creating transformative gatherings. I think you will love her book! Today I just edited this post to add a link to Priya’s brand new TED Talk. She just posted it to her website and it’s quite thought-provoking! πŸ™‚

      Please come back to share your thoughts/ideas after reading The Art of Gathering, Ericka! I’d love to hear about how her ideas support your ‘word’ for this year!
      Wishing you meaningful gatherings in the coming months! β™‘

  6. Hi Friends!

    Just popping in for a happy update…
    Recently, our family gathered to celebrate our parents 67th wedding anniversary. As I made the plans for our little celebration, I was very intentional about trying some of Priya Parker’s ideas from The Art of Gathering. We had a clear purpose ~ sharing cherished memories of my parents’ courtship, engagement, wedding, honeymoon, newlywed life,… and much more. I ‘primed’ family members in advance, so they could ask questions during the dinner party that would trigger happy memories and important family stories. It was a lovely experience for all of us and so very meaningful the guests of honor ~ our dear parents! β™₯β™₯ Having a meaningful purpose for a gathering and preparing all of the guests can truly make a gathering of any size much more meaningful!

    Today I added a link in this blog post to Priya Parker’s brand new TED Talk. It might just change the way you plan all types of gatherings from now on!
    Wishing you many meaningful gatherings in the coming years!
    Thanks for visiting today,
    β™‘ Dawn

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