Heart and Hands

Hi Friends,

The whole world is watching in shock and disbelief as we follow the unimaginable human tragedy and devastation that continues in Ukraine. Putin’s War has forced over 3.5 million refugees to flee from their homes in Ukraine in search of safety, protection, and assistance. The women, children, disabled, and elderly have been welcomed by Poland and neighboring countries across Europe. Ukrainian men, ages 18-60, suddenly became civilian armed forces heroically battling to save their homeland from unprovoked Russian aggression.

The whole world is also watching as the international community seeks meaningful ways to show our unwavering support for Ukraine and Europe. We will be following the news as the NATO Summit meets Brussels this week. Together we are stronger.

From my little corner of the globe, I have been taking small actions to show my unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. I will continue to support the work of World Central Kitchen with donations as they provide nourishing, hot meals, prepared by local chefs, in Ukraine, Poland, and wherever they are needed during this humanitarian crisis. Providing more than just meals, they are providing hope, dignity, and proof that others care. WCK is making a heroic effort 24/7 in this time of incredible need! Their short videos on Instagram offer a glimpse into the many ways that WCK is helping those in dire need right now.

I have also been learning more about Ukraine and their history. Last month, we watched the 2015 documentary Winter on Fire on You Tube. Although it was heartbreaking to watch (much like recent news reports), this Oscar-nominated film helped us to understand why the Ukrainian people are so brave right now.

In search of a bit of artistic outreach, I wondered what small, creative steps I could take in support of the Ukrainian people. For many years, I have followed the very talented cardmaker, Yana Smakula, who lives in western Ukraine. Yana is posting short messages on Instagram to let us know that she is still safe, but what daily life is like for her now. Yana is inspiring cardmakers everywhere, as she continues to make cards in her craft room in between sirens that force her to run for shelter! Yana’s dedication inspired me to find ways to use my love for paper and ink to support the Ukrainian people, as well.

I have been making small Ukrainian flags to show my unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. I have been sharing them with friends and neighbors who might also like to display them in their windows or other meaningful places.

I have also been busy making cards to let people affected by the war know that they are loved, thought of, and in my prayers. Inside each card is a personal, handwritten note of comfort and support.

I knew that it wouldn’t be possible to send mail to Ukraine in the midst of war. So, I will share my cards with a Ukrainian church near our home. I’m hopeful that they will share them with members of their congregation who are in need of a little extra love right now. I will also send cards to the Ukrainian Embassy in Chicago.

The sunflower has long been used as a symbol of peace in Ukraine. Sunflowers can be seen growing in the countryside and villages throughout Ukraine. Images of sunflowers are on several of my cardsโ€ฆ and will have a special place in my garden this summer, too!

On the Ukrainian flag, blue represents the wide blue skies over their homeland. Yellow represents the golden fields of grain that covered Ukraine before the Russian invasion. Both colors are on the insides of my cards, as well.

Working with my hands brings me a sense of peace, as I spend time in my little Paper Garden studio creating ‘paper hugs.’

Just this week, I learned that it will be possible for my cards to bring a bit of healing to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Artist Danny Gregory is collecting small pieces of art (no larger than postcards). Next week, he will ship a box (or boxes) of our art to his artist friend in Poland, who is volunteering at a center for Ukrainian refugees. She will share them with the people that she is helping.

Update (April 14, 2022): Danny Gregory collected over 1,000 small pieces of artwork. In the photos he posted, I could see my handmade cards of support and paper Ukrainian flags. The boxes of artwork were shipped to his artist friend in Poland last week. (Huge thanks, Danny and JJ, for helping the art community share our work and touch so many lives!) Next week, our small pieces of artwork will be shared with Ukrainian people who have had to flee their country since the horrific invasion uprooted their lives 50 days ago. ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’›

๐ŸŒป I truly hope the recipients will feel a brief bit of healing, hope, and comfort just knowing that others care deeply. Perhaps they might tuck the ‘paper hug’ into their backpack as a constant reminder that we see them and support them, as they begin to make all of the difficult decisions that lie ahead. ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’›

๐Ÿ’™ Our blog is a welcoming place for all who gather here! Heartfelt thanks for stopping to visit today. I hope that you are finding ways to bring moments of peace and comfort to your daysโ€ฆ and perhaps even a spot of JOY!

๐Ÿ’› Please let us know how you are finding small moments of peace during this extremely difficult time.

๐ŸŒป Take care of yourself, take care of your neighbor,

and do what you can!

Warmest hugs,

๐Ÿ’— Dawn


8 thoughts on “Heart and Hands

  1. It certainly is a challenging time right now for all of us who can hardly believe what we see on the news. I find it hard to process that something like this is actually happening right before our eyes in 2022. Your cards will certainly be a lovely inclusion in an art display.

    • So true, Judy! Europe holds such a special place in my heart. It has been so frightening to watch this humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes over the past month. We pray for peace as we try to do our small part to help.
      Just this morning, I thought about the day that I stood near the NATO Headquarters building in Brussels many, many years ago. Today our prayers are with the world leaders gathered there.

      Today I will write heartfelt notes of hope and support in each of my handmade cards. It feels like the cards will be tiny gifts of ‘Hopeโ€™ for each recipientโ€ฆ something tangible they can hold onto and carry with them during this frightening time when they are far from home and feeling so alone. Often, the simplest gesture can feel so powerful! Tomorrow I will bring my package of cards to the post office.

      Judy, I hope your gardening season is off to a nice start! We have had a few warm, dry days for garden clean up. It’s always a thrill to rake away the leaves and see tiny, green sprouts! This will be a year of BIG changes in my garden. I have lots to share in my next post!
      Sending warm hugs all the way to New Hampshire!๐Ÿ’—

      • So many treasured memories of my many visits to Europe over the years, Judy! The furthest east I have traveled is the Czech Republic.
        It is such a blessing to have gardening to bring us peaceful hours in the sunshine. I have been watching videos about flowering shrub varietiesโ€ฆ and making a wish list! We had snow flurries over the weekend, so I will wait patiently for several more weeks. Wishing you a nice week, Judy!๐Ÿ’—

    • It felt so very meaningful, Alys. Making cards is my love language! Writing messages of love and support in each card was very emotional. I truly hope the recipients will feel love, comfort, and courage from all of the artwork from this caring community of artists! My commitment to help, through World Central Kitchen and UNICEF will be ongoing. I know that you agree that we can all find our own special ways to help make a difference. You are such a powerful example of helping women and children, dear Alys! Thank you for ALL that you do!!๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’›
      Sending huge hugs all the way to California!๐Ÿ’—

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