“SIMPLICITY IS THE ULTIMATE SOPHISTICATION”

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

 

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

 

EVER LOST YOUR GLASSES?

Stupid question, I know. If you’ve been wearing glasses more than a few weeks, of course you’ve misplaced them at least once.

My latest episode of lost glasses occurred last night as I went out to empty my kitchen compost into an outside container. It was just getting dark, about 7:00 pm. The bin is surrounded by bushes on two sides and a fence on the other two. Spiders seem to find the area good hunting grounds as there are often webs going from bush to fence at head height (my head.)

Of course I ran into one in the semi-darkness. I’m not arachnaphobic, but there’s something decidedly unpleasant about spider webs on my face and in my hair, so I did the instinctive thing – brushed the web away with my empty hand. And, as you’ve probably guessed, sent my glasses flying.

The glasses were nowhere. I searched until it was too dark to see much of anything at which point I got a flashlight from the house, hoping the focused light might reflect off the plastic lenses.

When I realized that wasn’t going to work I gave up and went to bed.

Another fruitless search was launched as soon as there was enough early-morning light to see. I determined I’d have to do some severe pruning of the bushes where the glasses must be, and took off for my daily walk with my neighbor, Nancy. She offered to help me look when we returned, and I offered to give her $20 or my first-born son (who is 60 and happily married) if she found them.

Which she did. I showed her the spot where I’d been standing when the glasses sailed off. She looked down, then leaned down and picked them up. She declined the $20, and didn’t seem too interested in my son.

Nancy told me later that seeing me so delighted when she found my glasses, made her feel good, proving once again that the best way to cheer yourself up is to make someone else happy..

NEW WAYS TO SPREAD HAPPINESS…

One of my greatest joys is to select my photos and others’ quotations for a new edition of Happiness Cards. Here are 6 new ones I’m adding this week.

Pink Azaleas                        The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring. Carl Sandburg

HydrangeaPeople take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road  doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost. Dalai Lama

Banana Leaves        Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.             Eleanor Roosevelt                                                                                     

Begonia Close up            Always remember you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. Margaret Mead

Pink Begonias                          The whole worth of a kind deed is in the love it inspires.   The Talmud

Dahlia Close Up       If you want happiness for an hour take a nap. If you want happiness for a day go fishing. If you want happiness for a year inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime help someone else. Chinese Proverb

These Happiness Cards and 24 more are available in boxes of 30 on my website www.happinesscards.net

MUSINGS ON HAPPINESS

When I started looking for quotes for my Happiness Cards, I began a Google search with the most obvious word, “happiness.”  From the quotations I found, it was apparent that we humans have been looking for, and doling out advice about happiness since the ancient Greeks. Epictetus wrote, “There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things that are beyond the power of the will.” Easier said than done, Epictetus!

One can hardly pick up a popular magazine these days without seeing an article on happiness. Amazon lists more than 74,000 books with happiness in the title. I found 23 articles on the subject in the Huffington Post, everything from “Why Tens of Thousands of People Are Signing Up for This Online Course” (about happiness) by Carolyn Gregoire to a Tony Schwartz article, “Happiness Is Overrated.”

The New York Times ran an article by Arthur Brooks, “A Formula for Happiness,” that appeared in the December 14, 2013 issue. It sums up 40 years of research on the topic. About 50% of the determining factors of whether one is happy is something we can do nothing about – our genes. Another 40% or so is recent events, but the happiness acquired by getting that dream job or moving to California is short lived. The remaining 10 to 12%, made up of faith, family, community and work, is the one area where we have some control.

I have found that staying mindful of negative thoughts when they dominate my mind chatter, and replacing them with positive ones can do more to improve my mood than anything else I’ve tried. As Dale Carnegie said many years ago, “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It’s what you think about.” Amen to that!