“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one leave without feeling happier.”
Welcome to Happiness Cards! Blogging is a new venture for me, and I hardly know where to start. Maybe I should begin with a bit about who I am and what I do. I’m an 83 year old photographer and maker of Happiness Cards. I guess my age isn’t relevant until you consider the challenge I have when doing everything digitally.
When I was growing up things were very different: dial phones that were attached to the wall, no cell phones ; radios instead of TV; Monopoly and tiddley-winks instead of games on a digital platform; hours of playing outside and permission to bike all over town; and certainly no computers. I was in college before my family got a TV, and we were among the first in our neighborhood to have one. You get the idea. A very different world.
I’m not suggesting the world I grew up in was better. I love the things I can do with a computer (until it malfunctions) and with my digital cameras. But often I feel as if I’m running to catch up with the latest Facebook changes, software developments, platforms and things I don’t even know the names for. But it’s been said that if you aren’t learning you aren’t living, so here’s to life!
With this blog, I hope to inspire, entertain, educate, and now and then challenge you. I also want to share Happiness Cards and show you how you can use them to make the world a happier place. I’m looking forward to a wonderful adventure with you. Connie
No! I mean Snapdragons. One of my sons, when he was a toddler, called them Drapsnagons, and I have adopted his version. Snapdragon is a fun word to play with, and much more interesting than the Latin name, Antirrhinum. Interestingly, that is a Greek word meaning “like a nose.”
The flowers are fun, too. “They’re made up of 5 lobes divided unequally into upper and lower jaws. By pinching the sides of the flower gently you can make the jaws snap open.” The lobes must have reminded some of our ancestors of a nose, but others evidently saw a dragon. I like the dragon idea.
The Sunset Western Garden Book, where the description comes from, reports that snapdragons originated in Spain and Italy, but an online source said it was in the Americas. It seems there’s mystery surrounding these flowers, and one I’m not interested in clearing up. I’d rather just enjoy them.
This is my first attempt at photographing “Drapsnagons”, and I found it challenging.
“This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”
“From 1953 to 1981 a silver haired woman calling herself only “Peace Pilgrim” walked more than 25,000 miles on a personal pilgrimage for peace. She vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.” In the course of her 28 year pilgrimage she touched the hearts, minds, and lives of thousands of individuals all across North America. Her message was both simple and profound. It continues to inspire people all over the world.” (Reprinted from the website, www.peacepilgrim.org.}
She was an inspiration for many of us who walked across the United States in 1986 with The Great Peace March. Although the undertaking seemed daunting to us, Peace walked continuously in the continental U.S. plus Alaska and Hawaii for 28 years, traversing the country many times. She wore blue pants and a blue tunic with the words “25,000 Miles on Foot for Peace.
Peace Pilgrim died before our march began, but Cheryl Canfield, a fellow marcher who helped compile the book, mentioned below, knew her well. She had in her possession one of the tunics Peace had worn on her pilgrimage across the country. I felt honored that she let me try it on, and it fit!
As I learned more about this remarkable woman I realized she was a spiritually evolved individual who had much wisdom to pass on. After her death in a car accident on the way to a speaking engagement, friends gathered to compile her writing into a book that is still available as a PDF download or paperback book, Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Her Work in Her Own Words, at www.peacepilgrim.org.
Peace Pilgrim said many quotable things, one of which I have on my new Happiness Card with the blue hydrangea: “Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.”
This is a close-up shot of a blue hydrangea, blue being an unusual color for a flower. It is created by growing the plant in acidic soil. Pink, purple and red and pink hydrangea blossoms come about when the soil is neutral or more alkaline. The photo and quote are on one of my new Happiness Cards
The internet is filled with wise words from various people, some familiar to me, others not. I’m often curious about those whose name I’m encountering for the first time, and I realized that with the quotations I use on my Happiness Cards and Facebook posts you might be curious about the people behind the words as well.
My blog post from January 18 was an image of a dahlia from one of my Happiness Cards and a quote from Milton Erickson. “Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.” He was a real inspiration when I was working in the field of psychology, but he’s not well known by the public.
Erickson was born into a large farming family in Wisconsin in 1901. At 17 he was stricken with polio that almost killed him and left him paralyzed, unable to talk or move anything but his eyes. For months he was confined to bed.
With nothing to do, he developed keen observational skills by watching and listening to the actions and interactions of his family members. For instance, he noticed when his sisters would say one thing and demonstrate by body language they meant the opposite. His own body-memories returned slowly and were incorporated in his amazing recovery.
In order to attend college, his doctor recommended his young patient build up his upper-body strength. Still unable to walk, he set out on a 1,000 mile canoe trip by himself and returned able to get around with a cane.
He became a medical doctor and practiced as a psychiatrist. His observational skills, developed as he lay in bed, served him well in his professional life. The aftereffects of the disease left him in constant pain and eventually confined him to a wheelchair, but he practiced psychiatry for over 50 years. His innovative ideas in family therapy and hypnosis are used today by therapists around the world. He died in 1980.
It’s an exciting day when my new edition of Happiness Cards arrive. Although I’ve seen the photos on my computer screen, I’m never sure how they will translate onto a 2″x3″ card. In the beginning I had several bombs that I threw out, but I’m getting better at knowing the kind of images that work best. Here’s a begonia that I shot on a light box:
I was just getting into my GorTex rain gear for my morning walk when my neighbor called to tell me her foot was hurting and she couldn’t accompany me. I don’t usually walk alone in the neighborhood because of some past encounters with dogs, but decided to be brave, as I’d missed too many days recently. So I headed out. As I got to the end of our dirt road I could hear the ocean two miles away and had a thought. Why don’t I grab my camera and get my exercise while doing two things I love to do – walk along the beach and take pictures?
So that’s what I did, and here are some of the results.
It must have been late January or early February a few years ago. I was on my way back from a morning walk on the Haul Road, a community walking path that skirts the ocean, when I ran into my good friends, Kate and Lars. We stopped for a moment to catch up, and I must have mentioned seeing a piece of driftwood along the trail that I wished I’d picked up.
A few days later I stopped by their house for a few minutes. Kate excused herself and returned with an oddly shaped gift, wrapped in red tissue paper. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” she and Lars shouted. I recognized the driftwood before I tore off the wrapping. Lars had found the wood and dragged it back to their car. Kate wrapped it, but I never found out whose idea it had been to make it a gift. I was touched.
The driftwood now lives in my garden by my front door. I see it every time I come and go, and it always brings a smile to my face. When I went to collect my mail a few minutes ago, I noticed it, and it reminded me of a suggestion from an art teacher.
She promoted creating little works of art outside for others to find and enjoy. So on my way back from my mailbox I stopped to fashion a small heart out of rocks from the gravel that covers our dirt road. I laid it in a grassy spot that gets more paw traffic than foot traffic, but I know it’s there, and maybe someone will walk by, see it and smile.
I often think of that quote by Leonardo da Vinci when I’m photographing flowers, particularly white callas. Perhaps it’s their simplicity that appeals to many. And perhaps it’s simplicity that makes the popularity of black and white photography endure in some circles. I took both of these photos of a white calla on a black background, one I took as a colored shot and the other began the same way but was edited to black and white. What’s your preference?
I’m always looking for new quotes and I try to photograph new flowers every week to keep my Happiness Cards fresh and interesting. Here’s the first in a series of potential cards. I’d love to know what you think.