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.


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?


Black and White CallaWhite Calla on Black



The light was just right when I happened upon these leaves of a banana tree at the botanical gardens. That winter the plant froze, and I was happy to have recorded their beauty a few months earlier. The quotation I added to the back is one of my favorites, too.

Spread happiness everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. Mother Teresa
Spread happiness everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. Mother Teresa

LOOK WHAT I WOKE UP TO FIND… an article in the Ukiah Daily Journal about me.

Happiness Cards still blooming

This red-edged white begonia carries a quote from Beethoven. Connie Fledderjohann
Connie Fledderjohann. photo by River Wilder.

Long time photographer and Mendocino County resident Connie Fledderjohann is wrapping up a second year in the business of creating “Happiness Cards,” a line of simple cards with photos of nature on one side and quotes aimed at cheering you up on the other.

She works from Fort Bragg and has cards available in a couple of stores on the coast but mainly she’s an online business and got help from West Company to figure out the business side of things.

Fledderjohann’s operating assumption is “You can increase your happiness by making others happy.”

She came up with the concept mainly because she was eager to share her photography.

“I love photography and want to share my photos. Mendocino County has many wonderful photographers, lots of them my friends,” she explained. “But the more of us there are trying to sell our work in conventional ways the harder it becomes for each of us to make a living. In addition, I wanted a product that most anyone could afford. I began by giving away little cards with a flower photo on one side and an inspiring quotation on the other. I handed them out to friends and strangers. In return I always got a smile and ‘thank you’ and sometimes tears or a hug. And I always came away feeling happier. When my friends asked for their own cards to give away it became a business.”

And Fledderjohann says selling the cards makes her happy too.

“I treasure the many comments I’ve received from customers who relate the positive experiences they’ve had giving out Happiness Cards. I estimate that there are over 60,000 cards in circulation right now adding to the happiness of both giver and receiver.”

An example of the quotes on her cards is: “‘To play the wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable.’ – Beethoven.” This one comes on the back of a photo of a red-edged white begonia.

Fledderjohann works alone – and loves living so close to the Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg where she finds inspiration all the time – but gets help filling orders from a friend and neighbor when things are extra busy.

She takes inspiration from nature but also from role models “like Georgia O’Keeffe who kept creating late into life.” Why? “I’m almost 85,” she says.

Find Fledderjohann’s cards at www.happinesscards.net