Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Gift of Friendship + Giveaway

I have friends who always make me feel at home.

They invite me to their kitchen and pull out a chair at the table.

They pour me a mug of well-steeped tea, and we share our stories, amidst the art of every day.




Friends who stand with me at the gates of hope.

Friends who help me to find joy in the struggle.


Friends who are called to express what they see and to ask others what they see.

Friends who know it is not enough to simply speak, and so they act on their convictions with kindness and care.

Friends who are curious. They discover and explore. To them, this world is a wonder. 


In the spirit of friendship, I'm offering a giveaway - a subscription to a Year of Wonder with Helen McLaughlin.  I met Helen by way of Uppercase magazine.  She's a writer and curiosity coach who is currently traveling the United States in a 34-foot motor home. You can follow her adventures by signing up for her Weekly Findings, an every Monday newsletter, where conversation is encouraged.

What is Year of Wonder?

It's a members-only subscription service that centers around monthly, snail mail correspondence, from me to you. With curiosity, exploration, and discovery at its core, YOW is a gentle, but insistent, campaign to notice. To delight. To consider. To marvel.

These days, everything is online. It's efficient, sure, but it's lost that magical touch. Wondering can be an especially difficult undertaking when Google is just a keystroke away and Instagram is clamoring for a refresh. YOW aims to reintroduce what's tender and beautiful about human connection, letter-writing, voyages of the mind, and heart-centered research efforts.


What do you receive?

Each month, you will receive at your mailing address a handwritten letter and a set of instructions, accompanied by a small, but relevant, novelty item (as applicable). In non-tangibles, you will receive ideas, love, imagination, care, perspective shifts, and support.



Leave a comment for a chance to win the Year of Wonder subscription.

I'll announce the winner on Friday December 18, 2015. Good luck!


Special thanks to Barbara Hurst for the kiln-fired heart with pressed leaves and to Odile LeMînh for the vintage monogrammed linen cloth, both used in today's still life photographs. These ladies make beautiful pictures and beautiful friends.

37 comments:

  1. I love reading your posts and how eloquently you can convey your messages. I struggle getting my thoughts from pen to paper but am trying to learn from talented bloggers such as yourself. Your images are eye candy that enhance each and every word.

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    1. I do love your name . . . I'm partial to sweetie pie, but pookie pea might be a new favorite. Thank you for visiting here and for the kind words. Truly, the words are not my strength either . . . but rather than worry about perfection (as I used to do), I give it my best, and leave the rest.

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  2. You continue to amaze me with every post. When I think I know you, I know I have only scratched the service of your knowledge. Keep posting and I hope to get to know you better with each post. I have said this more than once you are awesome. I love your home so full of beauty. Oh my that chicken on the wall, just want to kiss it because I love. Must check out this link, sounds wonderful. I am right there with pookiepea, what a sweet cute name.

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    1. Hi Barbara, Wow I wish I could claim the kitchen in the photo as my own, but it belongs to a friend - one who often makes tea and shares life stories. As for the awesome comment, well I would say the same for you!

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  3. Your photos and your words are a solace to me...I'm glad to see whenever a post pops into my mailbox...and I am a big proponent of real mail so I will check out Year of Wonder!

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    1. Amy, I've had so much fun following you on Instagram. What I love most the sense of being there with you, watching your work progress - from the behind the scenes of getting ready for a show, or teaching and making with others, or seeing the finished products. I wonder that you never seem to run out of ideas for ways to look at the world differently. Thanks for visiting here and for all you do to bring art to my life.

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  4. Oh my ... I almost missed this Donna ... what an incredible gift you are giving - can I just say "wonderfilled" and I would surely love to receive this. I love this post. It's so good to see you xo

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    1. Barb, You send so much goodness by way of your newsletter and blog. Just this week I printed the beautiful lettered quote your shared, and I'm planning to try one of the dictionary trees this week. Your blog is a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration,and I love how you share yourself and your ideas in such an open and approachable manner. Congrats again on the publications - in Artful Blogging and Bella Grace!

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  5. Another beautiful post. I love how your photos and words combine together to tell a lovely story. Thank you so much for giving us a peek into your creative world.

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    1. Donna, I always appreciate the encouragement when it comes to combining the words and photos. I used to doubt my ability to write, preferring to say that I am a photographer who writes. But recently a friend encouraged me to stop comparing myself to other 'better' writers and instead compare myself to the writer I used to be . . .what great advice. I can see my progress! Thank you for visiting and bringing joy to this circle of friends.

      Somehow I've lost track of your blog/photostream, Donna. If you get a chance, send a little note my way to let me know where I can find you so I can return the favor and visit your site and see your work, too!

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  6. What a fun giveaway. I read this and it feels like friends to me too : ). I also chat with Odile from France and recently just met barbara and I see amy (love amy's creations)left a message..... I think it is interesting how certain blog friends pop out from the masses....to become friends, exactly like we do when we are "in person" (for lack of a better word) in making friends. A creative circle of friends : )

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    1. Oh, Cathy, I couldn't have said this better! Nothing makes me happier than when a friend connects with another friend, and pretty soon we're all friends. We are not about competition or comparison - but rather replenishing and recycling creative energy through kindness and expression.

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  7. What a wonderful idea this is! I always enjoy your posts (even though I don't always comment) and your photos always make me feel good inside.

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    1. Roxanne, I'm giving Instagram another try, and I've really enjoyed keeping up with your photographs. You've made so many gorgeous Christmas images and I used several of yours as inspiration. It's always a pleasure to have you stop by and visit. Like you, I visit many friends, but don't always comment. I enjoy browsing, taking it all in and learning.

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  8. Donna, I'm so glad that Melodye Shore introduced me to your posts. I've enjoyed reading and contemplating them, and seeing your POV from your camera lens. I carry it all with me for days afterwards. And now your Year of Wonder has inspired me to send unexpected snail mail to friends throughout the coming year. Wishing you a lovely new year full of new places to explore and photograph.

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    1. Hi Carol, It's a small world! I was introduced to Melodye by way of my just-down-the-road friend Candice Ransom, and so I am delighted to see this circle go round and round. Thank you for your kind words. I've always been a letter writer, but lately I'm even more thrilled by mail. A recent issue of Uppercase magazine featured an article about a Correspondence Co-op in Portland, Oregon. From a connection in the article, I made a new letter-writing friend - and having a pen pal is just as much fun now as when I was a kid! I'm sure your friends will be delighted to receive mail!

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  9. A contest offered by the blue ribbon prize winner herself? Count me in! And what a lovely surprise today to see some familiar faces and places in your photos...ooxx Joni

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    1. You are the queen of making do, making something from everything or nothing, making me laugh, and making cards that make everyone want to send mail. Thank you for a cup of tea at your table, any old time!

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  10. Your posts always touch our hearts..they make us see with renewed vigor the little details of life...what a beautiful gift you are offering.

    Jen

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    1. I would say the same to Jen. When you share simple ideas for seasonal planters or ways to see the grace of snow, you offer a beautiful gift as well. Can't believe I didn't know about Rural magazine - just signed up to receive this gorgeous publication!

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  11. Donna you are one of the most resourceful people I've "met" and you so freely share! I love that about you. Thank you so much for finding new and interesting things to better our hectic and not often focused lives. Such a wonderful gift give away. LOVE your photos, and gifts from Barbara and Odile!

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    1. Beverly, I think we are all in the sharing business. When we find something great, or make a new friend, we can't wait to tell each other - because that's what friends do . . . we laugh, cry and rejoice with each other. And it all feels good and right.

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  12. oh, dear. as ever swooning over the pairing of your glorious glimpses & wise words all filtered thru the lens that is your big wide open heart! fingers crossed needless to say. all in the hopes of MORE magical mail!! i leave you m'dear for now with this: "We are born makers. We move what we're learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands." ~ Brene Brown (in: Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution)

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    1. Okay -best quote ever, miss polly! You have the most unique ability to ferret out the perfect picture, words, story/book, recipe, connection to help me make sense of life. And it is your gift to make caring so much seem easy - though I know this is a conscious choice for you - to love every one - the mail carrier, oleo the cat, john the soup maker, vanesss the letter writer and on and on. Love you, too!

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  13. So happy to get caught up on all the goodness that has been happening here while I've been away. Oh, the subject of friends. Friends are the absolute best, aren't they. I'm so happy to have "met" you...and so enjoy learning more with each and every post. Even though I'm not there physically to pull a chair up to that table...we do have a table or sorts here in the blog world...so thanks for allowing me that space!

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    1. Robin, You might not recall, but you shared a few sentences by way of email regarding friends a while back - no drama, no games, just love and support - I believe this was the essence (though I'm sure you worded it in your own sassy way). And those words have stayed with me . . . and are the guiding principles in the friendships I have now . . . including those here! Thank you for taking me on your world travels via your pictures and for teaching and inspiring me, one Virginia girl to another!

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  14. You are that friend who does all these things for me!

    I’d like to be in for a chance! I’d like to use my camera to do something with this gift – a year of wonder inspired by Helen’s instructions and novelty item to explore and create with my camera. That simple…only to explore, not so much learn about how to use the camera, but to learn and explore about me and what is around me!

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    1. Teresa, You have hit upon the heart of photography as I want to practice it - not so much the technical aspects but the expression that can serve to enhance, heal, and brighten our lives. But then, you've known that all along - so wise you are, not at all like me who travels all over the place, only to come full circle right back to where we started - snapping pictures of the people and places we love!

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  15. Thank you for your touching words on friendship, Donna. Good friends are a treasure! I was thinking about true connection, the connection between me and someone else's heart or even the trees in my neighborhood after I found myself zoning out on Instagram during an afternoon walk. It's weird how social media and the internet can both facilitate beautiful connections and friendship, but also sometimes be a poor substitute for the real thing. It makes me want to savor, appreciate, and cultivate the friendships in my life that really do satisfy and bring me joy.

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    1. Shila, You've expressed exactly how I feel - walking that line between using social media to open our hearts and over-using it so that we neglect the people in our real lives who need and deserve our attention. As always, checking our intentions and actions seems to be a large part of the answer. I love your word choices - savor, appreciate, cultivate . . . this is the language of love - words that heal and help. Thank you so much for visiting here - where you will always be welcome.

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  16. What a wonderful idea, a Year of Wonder. Actually I LOVE the idea of traveling around in a travel trailer, but I don't think my husband would go for that. I will have to check out her Monday newsletter. Thanks as always for the great finds.

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    1. Sarah, I'm sure I have a romantic notion of how this kind of travel might actually be . . . but I'd sure love to give it a try! We might have to leave the husbands behind and set out on a girlfriend adventure! I've always admired your curiosity and the way it fuels your photography and your writing, so I do think this gift would right up your alley!

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  17. Donna Donna Donna - YOU are such a gift. Thanks for the introduction to Helen. xo.

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    1. Vanessa, I feel the same about you. Your letters that sail into my Inbox are a daily gift. You ask important questions, ones that are hard with thinking required and at the same time soft with compassion. And as you figure things out, you lead me to do the same.

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  18. What an awesome idea! The other day a friend sent me a long message online and she and I had a "chat" back and forth (privately) and it felt so good to actually share lives in heartfelt words, rather than one-sentence snippets. Getting mail would be even better :)

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    1. Nice to make a new friend who appreciates a good letter! So glad you were able to chat with your friend -nothing beats a good heart-to-heart conversation.

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