Words of Wisdom

Hi Friends!

Oh, how I love words! It has been a lifelong love affair. I can still remember hours spent pondering just the right word while writing poems in a tiny spiral notebook as a child. On my favorite bookshelf in our living room, right next to our green and white World Book Encyclopedias, my very wise mother had thoughtfully placed a book of Bartlett’s Quotations. I really enjoyed looking through this special book of important words over the years. You can only imagine the boundless JOY that I felt when I unwrapped my very own hardbound copy of Roget’s Thesaurus as an eighth grade graduation gift from my very perceptive Aunt Gilda! I felt so grown up as I studied its pages searching for the perfect synonyms and antonyms.

As the years passed, a passion for ink, markers, and paints also captured my heart. After college, I began studying calligraphy, carefully practicing the strokes that would form each letter. Using my dip pens and bottles of ink for hours made for relaxing evenings. However, there had to be a more interesting way to practice than writing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (A silly English sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet). 😉

My calligraphy practice in the 1980s

My love of words saved the day! I began collecting quotations to hand letter and carefully copied my favorite quotations into journals of all sizes. As the years went on, I organized these words of wisdom into interesting categories ~ love, family, friendship, travel, home, garden, children, art, writing, seasons, meditation, … (I’m enjoying looking through the pages of my quotation journals today as I write this blog post.💕) They are still my special treasures! Although I have a Pinterest board filled with quotations and more quotations saved on Instagram, when I need favorite quotation I tend to look back in my journals to find the perfect words of wisdom.

Very often, as I write a letter, I begin with a meaningful quotation at the top of my writing paper. I also love to hand letter a quotation on the back of the envelope. My handmade cards often have a special quotation inside that makes the perfect sentiment!

As we planned our wedding ceremony, we chose favorite Bible verses and quotations from the Persian poet, Rumi. The walls of my elementary classroom always had large, hand lettered quotations from children’s literature, famous leaders, and sweet quotations from my own students.😊

For the past eight years, a favorite Wordsworth quotation has been the tagline of my blog. Often, my blog posts feature a favorite quotation carefully placed on a photograph. I compose many of my photo shots to allow space for words of wisdom.

Oh, how I love words!

Years ago, my life was made even sweeter when I discovered a very special kindred spirit! My favorite author and artist Susan Branch loves words and has been collecting quotations for years and years. Susan hand letters and watercolors her favorite quotations so beautifully. (Susan Branch has always been my inspiration for my little blog!💗)

Susan Branch, via Zoom, in April 2022

In April, Susan invited her devoted ‘Girlfriends’ into her home, on Martha’s Vineyard, (via Zoom) to share her latest book project. She truly believes, “Quotations give us the power to change our world.”💗 Susan shared her huge binders containing her artwork and collected quotations with us! Excitement was building as she announced the title of her latest book…

Hot off the press!

Just one week ago, my pre-ordered copy of Distilled Genius (The Illustrated Secrets of Life) arrived in our mailbox. What a treasure! Susan’s beautiful hand lettering and charming, watercolored illustrations make her collection of life-changing quotations a feast for both the eyes and the heart!💕 It was printed right here in the Midwest, on lovely, cream-colored paper, with Susan’s signature, ribbon bookmark.

Distilled Genius begins with a heartwarming Preface followed by twenty carefully curated chapters of wonderful quotations. An avid reader and lover of words, Susan has included quotations from literature, films, music, and famous people throughout history. I’m delighted to discover many of Susan’s own inspiring words of wisdom sprinkled throughout the 272 delightful pages.

One might expect that a devoted Susan Branch fan would quickly read her newest book from cover to cover. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at many of the chapters, I am intentionally taking my time as I enjoy Distilled Genius! I am savoring each page, quotation-by-quotation. Sometimes with a cup of tea, often on our front porch accompanied by birdsong in the morning or the song of the cicadas on a summer evening. Reading this beautiful volume filled with words of wisdom deserves the gift of time. I know that when I come to the end, it will be such fun to start all over again!💕

My heart keeps whispering that Distilled Genius would be the perfect book of quotations for every home during these confusing, unsettled times. I can just imagine a child growing up now, who also loves words, reaching for this inspiring book! (Hint ~ holiday shopping!)

In a bit of magical synchronicity, just a few weeks ago, I saw Susan’s social media post from her travels in England. She announced that she was planning a U.S. book tour with booksignings at a few small, independent bookstores.

A favorite quotation from the German poet, Goethe, came to mind immediately. I dreamed of the chance to visit with Susan Branch for a fourth time! I should try to make that happen…

My fingers were shaking as I quickly messaged Susan Branch on Instagram and sent her an email. I took a deep breath and emailed Sandy, the owner of Prairie Path Books, in Wheaton, Illinois, to let her know that Susan was looking for a few bookstores to visit. I had always thought that they would be a perfect match!

Then I held my breath…

Susan was very happy for the suggestion. It turns out Sandy is also a huge Susan Branch fan. She emailed Susan immediately with an invitation. The very next day Sandy told me that the booksigning was officially confirmed!

Sandy’s newest display at Prairie Path Books!

The news spread rapidly among the Susan’s devoted ‘Girlfriends.’ 😊The tickets for the August 10th booksigning sold very quickly! I offered to help Sandy prepare for the big day. This is a very tricky time to be planning an event, with Covid numbers in the RED zone in our area. Susan will wear a mask and I hope that all of the guests will also wear masks, too. 🙏🏼 🙏🏼 It is such a little thing that we can all do that makes a BIG difference for everyone’s health and safety!

I’m going to enjoy this rainy afternoon with a cup of orange spice tea, words of wisdom from Distilled Genius, and a happy heart. 💖

Thank you so much for stopping to visit! 💕 Stay well, friends!

Warmest hugs,

💗 Dawn

20 thoughts on “Words of Wisdom

  1. Dawn, you are indeed a wordsmith, my friend. With just the right caring words I’ve learned your spirit. I’m excited for you to see Susan Branch again. My book is ordered and hopefully soon I too will delight in her latest. Her artwork along with her wisdom and the wisdom of others I’m sure will excite and inspire me. It’s lovely to know a treasure is awaiting.
    Have a lovely weekend! xoxo

    • Such sweet words, Martha Ellen! Thank you! You are awaiting a real treasure, dear friend! I bet Grayden and Samuel will enjoy it, too. My copy arrived last Saturday. I’m sure that yours will arrive any day now. It just has a few extra miles to travel. I wonder if you will read it slowly or quickly? A big decision, to be sure!💕
      I truly hope that everyone will make the decision to wear masks to the booksigning! Our Covid numbers are really climbing quickly now. I have always been very careful, for my own health, and as a family caregiver. So, let’s HOPE that I will be able to attend the event next month! 🙏🏼🙏🏼
      You were in my thoughts just yesterday when I saw all of the heavy rain in Virginia. I hope all is well for you and your family! Thank you for taking us all along on your latest adventure, Martha Ellen. I’m soaking up the sunshine in your recent blog posts!
      We have a rainy day here… just right for writing a new blog post! It’s so nice when Mother Nature waters my garden with gentle rains. Take extra good care! 💗

  2. I am so looking forward to sharing this special event with you and Susan! What a marvelous happening to think about and anticipate, I am brimming with warm, happy feelings that are much needed during this pandemic experience. Thank you for making it a reality, dear Dawn!!
    Jo Rudakas

    • It is something so wonderful to look forward to, Jo! It feels like something so ‘normal’ during this time when nothing is normal. It will be a larger crowd than I imagined, so we MUST think ‘safety’ first and foremost!
      Jo, we have such a special tradition of meeting at Susan’s booksigning events! The first time was the gathering for ‘A Fine Romance’ in 2013. You will love Prairie Path Books! 💕
      Thanks for always being here, Jo! Take extra good care!💗

  3. Dawn,
    I just want to start by saying that each of your posts is like a breath of fresh air in my inbox. I have been a subscriber to your blog for a while and every time I read a new post or browse around your site, I am convinced that if we were neighbors we would surely be friends as we share so many of the same interests, including ( but not limited to) a love and admiration for Susan Branch’s art and words. I had the honor of meeting her and Joe when she did her last book signing tour and made a stop in NJ. My best friend and I attended with our daughters and it was a fabulous girls’ night out filled with laughter and memories.
    My copy of Distilled Genius arrived this week, and like you, I have chosen to read it slowly and treasure each page and every quotation. Reading a few pages each morning as I sit on my back deck with the birds chirping in the background has become such a serene morning routine.
    I smiled to myself when I saw that you included a photo of a page from the chapter on handwritten letters, because that was the first chapter I read when my copy arrived. Normally I would read a book from beginning to end and cover to cover, but I could not resist starting with that chapter, and I immediately texted my cousin a photo of one of the pages. She and I have written long letters to each other ever since we were kids, and to this day getting one of her handwritten letters in my mailbox brightens my day. We are always saying that while texts and emails are efficient and great, nothing can ever replace a handwritten snail mail letter (which is even sweeter if it is enclosed in a handmade card).
    So thank you for this lovely post and I hope you will write about your experience at the book signing.
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Dorene ( a kindred spirit from NJ)
    PS: I received a thesaurus as a graduation gift from one of my favorite teachers, and that book still has a place of honor on a shelf near my desk. My friend and I have had many conversations about how wonderful thesauruses are, and our children have laughed at us for using these “antiques” when synonyms are easily found with the click of a button. While that may be true, my thesaurus will always be one of my favorite “tools”.

    • A warm, cozy welcome, Dorene! 💕I’m delighted that you joined in the conversation today. The comments are my very favorite part of blogging. It’s so lovely to meet another kindred spirit! I’m very curious to know what other interests we share? I wonder if you first discovered my blog through Susan’s blog or a favorite cardmaking blog?
      Although I have been writing more emails during this busy season of life, long handwritten letters are my very favorite ways to keep in touch. What fun to share a special letter writing tradition with your cousin! “Letters are like visits when friends are apart.”💕
      Your last visit with Susan Branch sounded so special, Dorene! Wouldn’t it be fun to chat with all of the Girlfriends over the garden gate if we were neighbors? Funny story: There is such a cute house a few blocks away that I would often pass on my walks. I would slow down, hoping to meet the person who lived there. I just knew we would be kindred spirits. Well, at a large Susan Branch tea party/booksigning (over an hour from home), I was chatting with a sweet lady who was near me in line. We discovered that Louise lives in the cute house that I love to walk past!😊😊
      Heartfelt thanks for your very sweet words, Dorene! You are always welcome to email me through the ‘Say Hello’ page at the top of the blog. So glad you are here!💗

  4. I enjoyed reading this today. I too love words and absolutely love quotes. Rumi is at the top of my list. We had VERY different childhoods and lives from there. But somehow, we both love similar things. I’m having my childhood late in life with colors and words. I am excited to see how long it will take to get her book if I order it. It’s so beautiful as is so much of Susan’s work. I’ve always loved it but the quotes are a favorite. I keep planning on embroidering some shorter quotes on my t-shirts. All I need is time and energy.

    • We are kindred spirits, Marlene! While you grew up in Germany and I grew up here in the Midwest, we connected through our love of words, creativity, and art! Perhaps that is what led us both into the wonderful world of blogging (where we meet the nicest people!).
      I know you would love this treasure of a book! If you order from Susan’s website, it will ship to you from her California studio. They are working very hard to ship quickly and have already shipped 5,000 copies! The book should also be available on Amazon in the coming weeks.
      Marlene, Julia Cameron would be so happy to know that you are nurturing your inner artist child!! Embroidering quotes on t-shirts (or pillows, or pillows made from T-shirts) is a wonderful idea!
      Now that you are getting settled in your new home, I wanted to mention that The Artist’s Way Creative Cluster that I enjoy so much will begin again in September. There is no cost to join. I think you already have the book. We work our way through the book over 13 weeks. We will meet on Tuesday evenings from 7:00-8:30 ET. Artists of all kinds share this creative journey. International artists are always welcome, too. Learn more at ArtistsForJoy.org. Scroll back to my blog post “An Invitation” to read about my experience. This will be my 4th time to journey along The Artist’s Way.👩‍🎨 It’s that good!! Have a happy, creative weekend, Marlene!💗

      • Thanks so much for the information, Dawn. I did order the book directly. I’ll check into the Artist’s way workshop. I’m still doing morning pages. I do still have my workbook after all these years. I’m working on a couple of quilts right now and finishing up several others. The list is long.

      • I know you will love Distilled Genius, Marlene! It feels like such a treasure, filled with both wisdom and beauty. During our Spring Creative Cluster, one of the artists was busy hand stitching her quilt as we discussed our weekly topic. Can’t wait to see your quilts, Marlene! Happy stitching!💗

  5. Ohh another post from you, dear friend. And what a wordsmith you are. This is such a lovely review of Susan’s book. Makes me want to look to see if it’s available in NZ yet. I really want to see it and savour it. And what a lovely thought you followed up on to have her do a book signing in a favourite book shop. I love quotes too. Often used to put them on my photographs. Lovely thing to do.
    I love the Goethe quote – one of my favourites- and I love your photo. It’s perfect. Thanks for sharing Susan’s book and your love of words and calligraphy. I’ll join you in a virtual meeting across the garden fence. Be well my friend and I look forward to hearing about the event itself. Love and hugs 💖🙏🥰

    • You are soooo sweet, Vicky! “Wordsmith” is truly a compliment coming from you and Martha Ellen!💕 Each week, I introduced my second grade students to five, new “smart words.” They felt so grown up! It was so heartwarming to watch their vocabulary and self-confidence grow with each new word!
      I think you would love Distilled Genius, Vicky! There is just enough room in your Tiny Home for a beautiful book filled with words of wisdom. You could check with Amazon or your favorite local bookseller to see if they can order it. Let me know if I can help.
      Kindred spirits, dear Vicky! I so wish our paths would have crossed years earlier, when you were living in Arizona! So grateful that technology keeps us close across the oceans now. I will plan a virtual meeting across the garden fence very soon! 🍃🌸🍃 Sending big, squishy hugs to NZ!💗

      • Thank you Dawn. I checked and Distilled Genius will be available in 60 days down here. Worth waiting for I’m sure. Big hugs back to you . 💜

      • That’s wonderful news, Vicky! We will be able to share our very favorite quotations. We can even read it together! The last book we read together was It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron.👩‍🎨It looks like you are having a nice Winter day today. Enjoy your garden, my friend!💗

    • Many thanks, Judy! Susan Branch loves getting to know her devoted fans. It has always been a delight to meet so many kindred spirits who share the same interests at her booksigning events! My white picket fence Herb Garden design was inspired by Susan’s garden long ago. My dad and I worked together to build it. It has always been the ‘heart’ of my garden! Take extra good care, Judy!💗

  6. How exciting that Susan Branch is coming to a book store near you! I met Susan once in Hudson, Oh and then again in Austin. Those meet-ups are so fun. So many kindred spirits all in one place. My book also arrived and I loved the jacket look of the cover without the book jacket! I have not had time to really read it yet….but soon. The lord only knows we haven’t been able to be outside! 47 days until September….not that I’m counting.

    • Oh, Chris! I was so excited that it all worked out! For a moment, it felt like ‘the good old days.’ Then we started brainstorming all the things we could do to try to make it a healthy gathering. 🙏🏼🙏🏼 I think I remember seeing your photo with your family in Hudson, perhaps on Susan’s blog long ago! It always feels like a celebration of kindness, friendship, and love whenever the Girlfriends gather! I’ll take lots of photos to share.
      I’m so glad that your book arrived! It was a very clever way to design the book cover… and it saves so many trees! (I think Beatrix Potter would be proud of this earth-friendly design.)💕 No chance to read outside in the West Texas heat! Savor every page indoors with lots of iced tea.
      Thinking of you both and sending big hugs, dear Chris!💗

  7. Dawn,

    I loved reading this blog post (though, let’s be honest — I enjoy reading each of your blog posts). Thank you for introducing Susan Branch to me, and thank you for facilitating this anticipated event in Wheaton! Thank you also for reminding me and your other readers about cultivating beauty in the everyday moments.

    Much Love,
    Laura

    • Heartfelt thanks, Laura! I’m delighted that you joined into the conversation today, my dear. You were meant to discover the wonderful world of Susan Branch. Bring your copy of A Fine Romance, so that Susan can autograph it especially for you! I think you will treasure Distilled Genius and want to keep it on your writing desk. See you soon!
      Love & hugs!💗

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