Matters of the Heart…

creativity

Hi Friends!

As the winter days and weeks pass, I have been on the most wonderful, heartwarming journey! This path has led me to lovely places of inspiration, time in nature, quiet hours of thinking and journaling, and most importantly, creative time in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. Matters of the heart… most certainly!

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All year long, I am focusing on nourishing my creative heart and soul. It feels great… and has yielded happy discoveries that warm my heart and assure me that this journey is a truly important one!  One of my ‘guides’ on this journey is the inspiring book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again (An Artist’s Way Program for Retirees and Other Creative Souls), by Julia Cameron. Enjoy this post from January to see how this journey began.

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Several times a week, I now begin my days by writing Morning Pages. It has become a quiet time of discovery, connections, and enthusiastic planning for my creative hours in the studio. One of my favorite discoveries has been the creative ‘ribbon’ that has curled throughout my entire life! From the ages of 8, 18, 28 and into my Renaissance (the ‘R’ word that I use for my retirement), my love for lettering, playing with inks and watercolors, photography, making cards, writing letters, and collecting quotes has always had a special place in my heart. So many sweet memories… I thought about my childhood journals. I remembered my early years as a teacher, with no money for art supplies, when I would heat emboss sentiments for cards over my toaster (not recommended!). I recalled having the entire kitchen floor of my apartment covered with handpainted green flourishes drying as I created Christmas cards. I smiled as I thought about all of the famous quotations, lettered with pen and nib and black ink on parchment, that decorated the long staircase up to my apartment. (They were my homework assignments from years of Calligraphy classes in my 20s ~ perfect for decorating on a budget!) I can still hear my friends saying, “You can get a college education just climbing the stairs to Dawn’s apartment.”  Yes, truly… matters of the heart!

So, it was a joy during the past few weeks to be able to nourish my creative heart by attending two lettering workshops, a cardmaking workshop, and two Saturday Papercrafting Crop days with my crafty ‘tribe.’  I have spent so many mornings enjoying glorious time in the studio… feeling fresh and inspired!

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Weekly Artist’s Dates have become one of my favorite parts of The Artist’s Way program. Taking the time to nourish my creative spirit makes even familiar, favorite places seem new again!  While walking through beautiful Orchid Greenhouses I thought about the color combinations on the blossoms.

Rather than shopping, I wandered through my favorite store, Crate&Barrel, with a whole new purpose. I looked at patterns, textures, and colors for inspiration.

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Crate&Barrel pottery

The textures, patterns, and colors on upholstery fabric and duvet covers caught my attention. Paisley patterns danced in my head for days. 

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Crate&Barrel fabrics

Matters of the heart… 

It was time to create some Paisley patterns of my own, using paper and ink!

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Supplies: Papertrey Ink stamp, SU Dye inks, Distress Inks, Ranger blending tool, Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper

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Supplies: Papertrey Ink stamp, Papertrey Ink Dye ink, SU Dye inks, Distress Inks, Ranger blending tool, Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper, Uni-ball Signo gel pen (White details inspired by Kathy Racoosin’s beautiful designs!)

A rare warm, sunny January afternoon inspired an Artist’s Date at the Morton Arboretum.  As I strolled along the beautiful ‘Conifer Path’ I was immersed in the heady evergreen scents. Nature’s scents are what I miss the most in the middle of winter. I noticed all of the shades of green and the forms of the needle-filled branches.

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Now I look forward to creating some evergreen branches of my own using watercolors

and perhaps adding a hand lettered quotation.

These are matters of the heart…  that nourish my creative soul!

Last week, my Artist’s Date was a quiet morning spent in a wonderful, independent bookstore, Prairie Path Books. I could instantly feel that I was among friendly, interesting, kindred spirits there! They were curious to hear about my journey through The Artist’s Way program. In fact, they have even hosted Artist’s Way gatherings there in the past. So, they completely understood that I wasn’t shopping, but there to learn and discover instead. I spent time reading the opening passages of several beautiful memoirs. The words of each author filled my heart with new inspiration.

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Matters of the heart…   I have given so much thought to each exciting ‘tool’ in It’s Never to Late to Begin Again over the past few weeks: Morning Pages, Artist’s Dates, Solo Walks, and Writing Memoir.  Each one is so valuable and each takes time. Since my goal this year is to nourish my creative heart with creative time in my little studio,  I will be tweaking The Artist’s Way plan going forward. There must also be family time, time for workouts, time for home and garden projects, tea with friends, reading, scrapbooking, blogging, and travels.

So, I have decided to s-t-r-e-t-c-h this 12-week journey of discovery into a 12-month journey.  Ahhhhhh!  I’m really looking forward to working at a much slower place, and having more time to write memoir. It’s something that I have long wanted to begin. Telling our stories and documenting our lives in different ways is yet another ‘ribbon’ that curls throughout my life.

Matters of the heart…

and when my heart speaks, I always listen!

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Be sure to let me know if you are interested in reading more about

this journey of discovery or possibly joining in!

You can leave your thoughts below,

or contact me quietly through ‘Say Hello’ on the blog.

♥♥♥

Thank you all so much for taking time

to read Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes.

The kindness, encouraging words, and creativity

of the friends who gather here always inspire me.

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Supplies: Papertrey Ink stamps, Papertrey Ink tag die, Simon Says Stamp ‘friends’ die, acetate for ink smooshing technique, water mister, paintbrush, Distress inks, Versafine Onyx Black ink, Canson watercolor paper,… and lots of love!

Heartfelt thanks for being a part of my life…

and for allowing me to be a part of yours!

Happy Day!

Warm hugs,

♡ Dawn

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For the Love of a Letter…

Letters are like visits… when friends are apart!           {via Tumblr}

Hi Friends!

I’ve been thinking about one of my very favorite pastimes today!  As far back as I can remember {and that’s a long time}, I have always loved writing letters. It just fills my heart with happiness to pick out pretty stationery, find a lovely postage stamp, a nice pen, and let the words just flow… straight from my heart! Often I will tuck in a photo or two that hold special memories. Letter writing is one of the joys that has made such a difference in my life!

It has always been my style…

On our family vacations throughout my childhood, I would bravely strike up a conversation with someone my age at the campground or by the swimming pool. Before parting ways, I would often ask them to be pen pals so that we could continue our friendship all summer long. Throughout grade school and high school, I loved writing letters to my French pen pal. Oh, the excitement to find her letters in our mailbox!

It has expanded my world in wonderful ways…

Some of the friendships that I treasure most in life began by writing letters. After a brief meeting in person, my German friends and I watched our friendship blossom through letter writing. We learned patience, as we waited weeks for our letters to cross the ocean and back, with a long-awaited reply.  The anticipation made it ever so exciting!

It keeps hearts close across the miles…

Writing to friends and family in other states always makes the distance between us seem shorter. It is always so heartwarming to discover a Kindred Spirit who also loves to write letters! Oftentimes, our friendships have grown even deeper, through letter writing, after a friend has moved away, Sharing our hearts in handwritten letters, even when friends live nearby, has helped our friendships grow in the most wonderful ways.  Making time to write a real letter, in this age of electronic communication, is a true expression of affection, friendship, and love! The gift of rereading a letter several times multiplies the joy of receiving it.

It is filled with sentimental creativity…

Pretty paper always makes my heart soar! Just choosing the perfect piece of  stationery is part of the charm of the handwritten letter. Once the paper is filled with carefully worded thoughts, it becomes a heartwarming, little gift for a special someone. I also adore sending notes in handmade cards.  Spending time thinking about the recipient while I create their card always feels like a little visit. Letters are like visits… when friends are apart!

There is love in the tiniest details…

At the post office, I always ask to see all of the stamps, just to find the perfect one for the recipient… one they might enjoy. In my Calligraphy days, I would dip my nib into handmade ink colors as I addressed each envelope, to complement the postage stamps. It’s the little things that make my heart happy!

Writing a letter feels so good…

There is even a scientific reason why making time to write a letter or note, even on the busiest of days, makes me feel so happy. This simple act of connecting and bonding with a friend, without any expectation in return, stimulates Oxytocin (the ‘feel good’ hormone) levels in the bloodstream. When our Oxytocin levels rise, it becomes easier to deal with stress. Writing letters is such a healthy, happy pastime!

Letters become real treasures…

Letters document the small moments of our everyday lives in a real, lasting way.  My mom still treasures the weekly letters that my dad sent her while serving in Korea. They are tied with a ribbon, joining two young hearts so long ago. The stories these letters hold are so important to our family. They are a cherished part of our history.

Letter Writing journals held the daily letters that my young students and I exchanged long ago. They each enjoyed writing me a letter in class, while I enjoyed answering their letters at home, while sitting on the porch swing. They shared the important things ~ their families, their pets, their dreams, and their questions. We grew so close, through our daily letters. Over the years, so many students have let me know that they saved their teddy bear Letter Writing journals because they hold the stories of an entire year of their lives! Their letters document an important part of their childhood.

During a recent summer, a young neighbor and I also shared a Letter Writing journal. I would deliver my letter to his mailbox early each morning and he would carefully tuck the journal holding his reply behind the checkerboard on our front porch. (He wasn’t quite tall enough to reach our mailbox!) We both looked forward to our daily letters! Over the summer, this struggling writer discovered that writing is communicating and can be really exciting! We will always be important friends because of the letters we wrote that summer.

Over the years, as my young students have grown up, many still keep in touch. I will always cherish their letters, filled with their everyday stories, important questions, hopes, and dreams. They often write from college, sharing their lives as they grow up. Oh, how these letters touch my heart!

It’s so nice to brighten someone’s day…

During these uncertain times, it is so lovely to send words that someone special can hold onto for years to come. Although weeks or months (or even years) have passed, perhaps there is someone special who would love hearing from you! When they find your letter in the mail, everything just picks up right where you left off. You could write a long, newsy letter to catch up on one another’s lives, send a handmade card with a little note, or write a special thank you letter for a kindness. It’s never too late. Whenever one person writes a letter ~ it makes two hearts happy!

It’s easy to spread sunshine to friends you’ve never met…

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."  ~ Winnie the Pooh

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
~ Winnie the Pooh

There are many wonderful organizations who welcome your handwritten notes. It’s such a small act of kindness that makes a big difference in the world. Postcrossing is a fascinating way to connect with people from all parts of the world by sending postcards. Writing ‘Any Hero’ letters is an important part of the amazing organization, Operation Write Home.  Letters from American citizens are delivered to American military personnel deployed across the globe. It’s our opportunity to thank them for their service and sacrifice. What a small act of kindness for those who give so much for all of us! Just writing letters, notes, or postcards can make a real difference in the life of someone you might never meet!

It’s the perfect time to write…

‘National Send a Handwritten Letter Day’ will be celebrated on the 17th day of every month in 2015. If everyone writes just one letter, it will support the goals of preserving and honoring the art of the handwritten letter, pumping millions of letters into our struggling postal system, and bringing millions of smiles into the hearts of people from coast-to-coast.

The ‘Happy Mail’ movement encourages everyone to send a card, note, or letter, too. Their goals are to make someone’s day, connect people (and hearts) together, and to save a mail carrier’s job! Just the simple act of writing a letter makes a big difference to everyone who touches the letter ~ you, the person sorting the mail, the person delivering the mail, and the recipient. So much happiness flows from one little letter!

It has been such fun to write Valentine notes and letters this week. ♡

It has been such fun to write Valentine notes and letters this week. ♡

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once said “Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.” Handwritten letters hold our stories and document our lives in the loveliest of ways. They are best savored with a cup of tea!

“Or don’t you like to write letters?  I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something,” wrote Ernest Hemingway.  That’s so true for me! Writing a letter always feels like playing, rather than working!

Just LOVE to write letters! I'm off to brew a cup of tea...

I will always be a letter writer at heart!

I’m looking forward to writing a long letter to a faraway friend this weekend. Emails are great… but a letter to hold, reread, and save is an extra-special gift of love and friendship! Writing letters is just what I do, and have always done. Sometimes the good, old-fashioned traditions are the best ways!

Hope you will make someone’s mailbox happy… and put a smile in their heart today! ♡

Happy writing!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Are you a letter writer?  Please share your stories, too!  Who would just LOVE to receive a letter from you this week?

{All stamp images ~ USPS}

Christmas in Bloom

 

 

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Just stepping into the Conservatory on a cold December day warms my heart!

Hi Friends!

Just last week, I visited the Conservatory in a nearby park to enjoy the colorful Christmas blossoms. Ever since that sunny visit, I have been thinking about my favorite holiday flowers…

Poinsettias have always been a part of our family Christmas celebrations. I have sweet childhood memories of guests bringing my mom a beautiful Poinsettia at Christmastime. I often wondered what made this flower so special? When I began decorating a home of my own, my mom, aunt, friends, or neighbors would surprise me with a beautiful Poinsettia plant for my December birthday. Often there were many colorful Poinsettias here!

Now I realize why these flowers are so cherished…

Can you guess why these beautiful blooms are such a heartwarming part of my Christmas?

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Poinsettias come in so many different colors…

 

 

Another Christmas flower that warms my heart is Cyclamen. Its unique heart-shaped leaves show off delicate flowers that dance upon long, graceful stems. Many years ago, I ‘discovered’ Cyclamen while visiting Germany at Christmastime. During that wunderbar Christmas visit, I was enchanted by the Cyclamen plants blooming on my friends’ windowsills.

couldn’t wait to bring that Christmas tradition to my home!

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Cyclamen

Now each year on my birthday, my husband surprises me with pretty Cyclamen plants for our sunny dining room. This Christmas, they are gracing an antique wooden box on our dining room table. Every time I gaze at their blossoms, I remember my faraway friends and my unforgettable Christmas in Germany!

Cyclamen and Poinsettias

have become such an important part

of our Christmas celebrations here at home.

Beyond their beautiful blossoms, they hold precious memories.

 They are a special part of our family stories now,

celebrating so many precious people

who will always be part of our lives.

 

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The Conservatory has a wonderful kaleidoscope that allows visitors to focus on different flowers. It is amazing to study Poinsettias and Cyclamen through the lens of the kaleidoscope. What intricate designs it creates! Take a peek…

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Amarillys, Paperwhites, Christmas Cactus, Star of Bethlehem…

In Christmases past, I have grown and enjoyed them all.

Each blossom brings so much beauty on the coldest of winter days.

Amaryllis {Photo Credit}

 

Paperwhites     {Photo Credit}

 

Christmas Cactus {Photo Credit}

 

Star of Bethlehem {Photo Credit}

 

Yet for me,

the most heartwarming Christmas flowers

will forever be

Cyclamen and Poinsettias,

for they have stories to tell that make my heart sing…

and stories truly do matter!

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Pale pink Cyclamen and bright pink Kalanchoe

Yes, flowers are always a special part of Christmas at our house.

But I hope you’ll come visit again soon,

for the most special stories

are waiting to be shared.

 Next time…

May your Christmas bloom with happiness!

♡Dawn

P.S.  What is your favorite Christmas flower? Hope you’ll share your stories!