The last time I saw Susan she was three years old.
She lived in my hometown and was Julia, my best friend’s, little sister. I was thirteen years old when my dad died and we left the town where he taught at the local college. Mother got a job out of state and I lost touch with both sisters. Years later, Julia and I reconnected, followed by my reconnecting with Susan. We became Facebook friends and were in touch almost daily. Her creativity, compassion for others, and energy, were a breath of fresh air.
On October 9 this year, Susan passed unexpectedly. When I saw her daughter’s post on Facebook, announcing her Mom’s death, I was heart sick. Even now, thinking of it gives me a lump in my throat.
A few days ago, I found the Christmas card Susan sent me last year.
This is so much more than a Christmas card to me. It is a reminder to take the time to let people know how you feel. Susan’s card will inspire me to send physical reminders to let others know they matter to me, and why.
Years ago, I read that sincere compliments are so rare, we remember them for a lifetime. At my age, a physical reminder is helpful. In the age of everything quick, reactionary and electronic, a personal note is especially treasured. This year may be the perfect time to send a hand written note to loved ones to let them know you care.
Stay safe and share your love and light. No day is promised.
One of my most powerful lessons on creative thinking was my aha! when I realized that half of eight was O!
I was in an arithmetic class in elementary school and as I looked at the number 8, I realized that "half of eight equals 4" wasn't the only right answer! This discovery thrilled me and I immediately raised my hand to share this with my teacher and the rest of the class. The teacher was neither impressed nor pleased. She was visibly annoyed.
By the time I got home, my dad, a calculus professor at an engineering school, had received a call. He sat me down at the dining room table to have a conversation. His face was expressionless (my dad had made a considerable amount of money in the Korean War playing Black Jack and unlike me, had an enviable poker face).
He told me that my teacher had called and given her perspective, quite negative, on my discovery, and he asked me to explain mine.
"Well, I just realized that half of eight can be zero," I said quietly, my head down.
"Can you prove it?" he asked, and I saw a grin cross his face. He knew I could!
So I drew an eight, and covered the top. 0!
My dad was not angry. He was pleased! And as I looked at the 8 I realize it could be an E or a 3! And if I turned it on its side, it could be an m or a w!
It was then that I realized being creative in school might not be well received. Over the years, many teachers wanted me to memorize and regurgitate. Thankfully my dad, a Calculus professor, wanted me to think.
My life would have been very different if he has scolded or reprimanded me as my teacher had. I have often wondered over the years as I've worked with young people, how many times their creative ideas and potential contributions have been squelched. Seeing things in new and different ways adds such joy to life.
Just this morning my daughter Mycala came up with an idea that i could see changing everything in her life, and have a humorous and joyful impact on others! I've been smiling since and thinking of how blessed I was to have support in my life for looking for more than one right answer!
I started Collecting Firsts years ago, when I was weary of the same house, job, drive to work, etc., and I decided if life was going to be more varied and vibrant, it was up to me to take a more creative and proactive approach. It never occurred to me that my ‘first’ plague was in the future, or the first time watching my youngest daughter struggle with Covid 19.
On a brighter note, as she began to slowly recuperate, inspite of on going after effects, she asked me if I’d like to participate in the virtual Baltimore 26.2 mile crabby walk. At 70, I knew it would be a challenge as it was my first, but wanted to support her, so I agreed.
On Saturday, October 10, we completed our required miles and yesterday our t-shirts and medals arrived so we opened them together on a Zoom call!
We’re planning to do the turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day and run a marathon in the spring. Setting goals together has helped to make this bittersweet year a little more bearable. Even during a pandemic, there are ways to collect firsts. I hope you are all setting goals and making wonderful memories.
"I just love this new look you've been creating, it's got all the details of a good botanical illustration AND it's super artistic and original. Go you!"
~ Paula Swenson-Zografis
~ Paula Swenson-Zografis, Artist-Illustrator
Lives in Vila Nova De Ceira, Coimbra, Portugal
Creating collages has been my main distraction during this pandemic. It has kept me productive and occupied. My youngest daughter fought the virus for over a month and thankfully, is now recovering. My oldest daughter was married a couple of days ago and I wasn't able to attend the wedding. Turning to gardening and art has been a comfort and therapy.
So far, I've created 105 collages!
The next step it so paint them. When I did my course on Enhancing Your Life with Herbs, I painted over 200. It's a six week course and I've delivered it four times, always taking in fresh cuttings to pass around the class so they could experience the fragrances, textures, color and at times, the flavors. Unfortunately, since our class will be on Zoom this year, we won't have that opportunity. Having the illustrations will be even more helpful this year.
After I create the paintings, the next step is the tedious, but satisfying job of cutting them out.
Painting the papers comes next. The papers can be used as backgrounds, or torn or cut to create images. Using the best quality paints ensures the colors are intense and vibrant!
Finally, all are combined to create my collages!
A post from last year. Seems like an appropriate time to repost.
Sending prayers and comfort to those who have lost loved ones.
In February a dear friend's mother died. I created a comfort journal to help her process her loss and give her comfort while remembering her loved one. Since then I have made several more but this is my favorite - probably because her mother's favorite flower was the rose. The comfort journal provides quotes, writing prompts, and a list of ideas for self care. I asked her a few questions about her mother so I could customize it - her favorite color, flower, song, etc. If you have a loved one who has lost someone dear to them and likes to journal, you might want to make a comfort journal for them.
As we enter 2020, it's interesting to look back at the evolution of styles from the 1920s.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!