I was browsing my copy of Jennifer Swift’s book, Creative Bloom, and I loved the story she told in the first chapter, “Clearing the Soil.” (The inspiration, words of wisdom and projects in Jen’s book are shared through many metaphors of gardening and growing things and how that relates to creativity.) In the story, Jen recalls a day over a decade ago when she came across a mound of frozen dirt outside her college’s studio-arts building. She mentions how sad the snowy and bare little patch looked on what was supposed to be the start of spring—March 21—and how later that night she felt inspired to brighten things up. She began shaping some wire into the shape of flowers, which she wrapped with linen thread to add some color. When she was finished she went outside to plant her little flowers in the empty garden plot, and, using chalk on the sidewalk in front of the patch, she wrote, “Celebrate March 21, the first day of spring!”
When she arrived for class the next day, she overheard people talking around the entire building about the surprise garden that had sprouted overnight and she was warmed to see it had had a positive effect on people. As Jen put it, “It was the first time I witnessed my art making a difference in the lives of others.”
This act reminded me of all the really great stories I read recently in Jenny Doh’s book, Art Saves. Every story in this book is inspiring, and I love the contributors who gave examples of using their artistic gifts to give back to the world—both in little ways as well as big (both of which are valuable in their own way). As Jenny says, “Everyone has something to contribute to the greater good, and it’s up to you to get out there and do it.”
One such great example in the book is that of Susanna Gordon. Susanna makes lovely little winged envelopes that carry inspiring words of encouragement such as, “Your opinion matters” and “You’re a work of art.” She then leaves these messages in random places for strangers to find. Susanna says, “There is something liberating about creating a piece of artwork and leaving it for a stranger to find to keep for free.” I agree.
Moved to do something myself to try and brighten up the day of someone who might need it, I was itching to make my own project yesterday. Borrowing inspiration from both of these books, I created a little envelope to house little seeds of happiness that I could sprinkle wherever I went.
I decided that it might be nice to have a couple of options for my “seeds” so that, depending on time and place I could either leave a little card or else an even subtler note—a tiny token. For my messages, I included “Smile, today is YOUR day! This card proves it! Show it to anyone you need to” and “You are super amazing! Please don’t forget it” and “Smile . . .pass it on” . . .stuff like that. To carry my little messages, I made a fabric envelope that I stitched the word “seeds” onto the front of.
Next time you’re feeling blah or even blue, I recommend looking through either of these books for a sure pick-me-up. And remember, you have a great purpose! (Pretend like you just found that card.)
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