When I was a girl, I loved to have pen pals. There was something so magical in getting personal mail from someone some where else in the wide wide world. I didn't get a lot of pen pals outside the USA because I only understood English. I didn't get a lot of pen pals, period, because we moved a lot and once I started a letter exchange, it ended with a move. They weren't the type of moves where we left forwarding addresses -- it was a one step ahead of the eviction sort of thing.
When I was in college, I had a little more stability, living on my own and was able to write long letters to friends and get letters in return. All pen pal relationships and long distance relationships in general tend to fade after awhile. But it was one of the first things I sought when I got hooked up to email back in the late 90s.
I don't know if I could have imagined how much of the world would be accessible through the internet. Now I have friends from all over the world whose blogs I can read, who I can follow on facebook, and who make me feel that I am a citizen of the world, and not just a lady with a disability who rarely gets out of her neighborhood.
I have a continuous education thing going on by studying blogs on art, writing, history and child development. It's pretty amazing on the intellectual side, but on the social side, its a blast. I have met the most creative and generous souls through blogs.
This year I was asked by a another artist to join a blog hop called the Paint Party Friday. Each Friday, we all post links to our blogs at the site and then visit the other posted blogs. There are about 100 or so artist who post, so I was in over my head. I can rarely visit all the blogs and I only get to post about once a month when I have enough time to take the Paint Party Art Tour.
It's been a major inspiration and also a very humbling sort of experience. We hear so much about strife and conflict in the world, but when you actually start talking to people and sharing art with them, you almost get a glimpse of paradise.
Even though I don't get to visit all the blogs and art sites, there are a few artists I try not to miss. One of them is the blog of Tracey Fletcher King, an artist and illustrator from Australia, who does my favorite style of realism with ink and watercolor. She does wonderful illustrations of her everyday life, her edibles, flowers, and whatever strikes her fancy. Her colors are bright and her lines lively. One of her specialty's is tea cups and she paints the most graceful cups -- little vessels of delight you just want to pull out of the computer screen and hold in your hand.
And she's a great writer. Not just in the sense that she can describe thing beautifully, but in that she has a wicked and contagious sense of humor that never fails to leave me laughing. I know that at least once a week, no matter how bleak my life seems or how bad I feel, I can read a Tracey post and whatever load I'm hauling seems to lighten and often float away.
Earlier this year, Tracey posted that she had breast cancer. All through her treatment, she has kept her blog readers in her thoughts, shared her treatments and shedding hair stories with us, and generally continued to to lighten the hearts of her readers, even as she was going through an ordeal that would keep many of us curled up in a ball in bed, refusing to speak to anyone. And she's still doing it!
I think she's a shining example of how writing and art heal the spirit, even if the body is going through all the stages of illness it must go through in this mortal and brutal world. I know it's what has helped me stay sane through many hard struggles with health and life -- or it's made me enjoy my insanity more.
I've long been preaching that the arts heal -- and not just creating them. Looking and listening have enormous healing power. When I am too tired or in pain to create, I make myself look at beautiful creations and read wonderful stories. It does my soul good to know that people are taking the time to make things for the express purpose of making me feel better.
And so for Tracey, as part of the Paint Party Friday Surprise Tea Party For Tracey, I have made this Flower Girl. Just a little trifle of blooming happiness that can't begin to tell of all the happiness Tracey's planted in my heart.