I’m very grateful that it only took me nine months to carry and birth my sons. Everything else in my life, it seems, needs to gestate for years.
Take Leaf, for instance.
Gabriel was two years old when I got the inspiration for the story. He was sixteen by the time I finally held the completed book in my hand.
Imagine taking fourteen years to bring a child to term!
(On second thought – don’t – it’s just too exhausting to even consider.)
Recently, I was able to finally bring to term another vision I’ve held for a very long time. Of course, there’s a story behind it so you might as well make yourself a cup of tea and settle in.
* * *
Once upon a time, there was a young woman who had stories and pictures constantly dancing in her head. She was pretty good at writing down the stories, and would sometimes try to capture the pictures on paper, but was too shy to do anything else with them.
And then her nephew, Quinn, came into the world. The years preceding his birth had more than their fair share of heartache and pain and his arrival brought such joy to the family that a new picture started forming in her head. This time, it didn’t stay hidden in her sketchbook.
She gathered enough courage to paint the picture and frame it. She was a little embarrassed by the painting because it didn’t turn out the way she had envisioned, but it was a gift from her heart that expressed what she was feeling about this boy’s arrival on earth so she wrapped it up anyway, thinking to herself that maybe one day she would be able to do a better job.
Over the years, she played around with her stories and even turned one into a book, but, other than painting a few pictures for herself (and even painting some mandalas right onto her office wall) she didn’t do too much more with the drawings in her sketchbook. She was very busy raising her family.
But every time she flipped through the sketchbook, she would think about doing something more with Quinn’s picture. She believed it’s message was an important reminder to people about their immense value, but she could never bring herself to pick up the paintbrush to try painting it herself.
Then one day, about the time her nephew turned 18, she was leafing through the book she had published and marvelling at the beautiful illustrations her artist friend had painted for it, when she realized that she had paid for 18 illustrations and there were only 17 in the book.
She immediately thought of Quinn’s picture.
Should she ask the artist to do a painting of the sketch? Could she make it into a poster that others would want to hang on their wall? She pondered this for a very long time and then finally decided that if this idea had not left her alone for 18 years, she should probably follow through with it. She didn’t want to be laying on her deathbed wishing she had had the courage to put her idea out into the world.
Her artist friend did a beautiful job of the painting–a much better job than the now-not-so-young woman would have done–although it took a while to reconcile the artist’s version with the vision she had carried in her head for 18 years.
She found someone to make the painting into posters and when she saw the first one come off the press she knew exactly who needed to receive it. In a few day’s time she would be visiting her niece, Hope, Quinn’s younger sister, who would soon be celebrating her birthday.
Once again, she was nervous about presenting this gift. Would a 12 year old girl want to hang this on her bedroom wall? But she remembered when Hope had joined the family, and all the joy she brought with her (not to mention the promise her name carried with it) and she knew she wanted her niece to be reminded every day of her worth in the world.
So with that in mind, she wrapped up the poster and added the following message:
Happy Birthday, Hope!
The world was forever changed when you arrived. You are such a miracle, bringing gifts to this planet that no one else in the entire universe could possibly bring because they are not you. Please, always remember that. Hopefully, this painting will be a constant reminder of your immense worth. There is no one else like you, no one else who can do what you came here to do, so hold nothing back!
Love, Auntie Max
And as she wrote these lines she smiled to herself, wondering if, by the time she was welcoming Hope’s children into the world, she would have finally developed the courage to follow her own advice.
* * *
The tagline for Turtle Dreams Press,
(the part of Turtle Dreams that publishes the books, cards and posters)
uplift inspire delight
I want the things I create to add value and beauty to people’s lives. So far, I’m pleased with the results of my first two attempts and very grateful to the people who helped me turn my visions into reality. I tend to be a lone wolf, preferring to work on my own, but my visions would never have seen the light of day without the considerable talents of other people.
As an added bonus, all the collaborators for this project are not only Canadian, not only Albertan, but from right here in Mountain View County, specifically Didsbury and Olds.
We have so much talent here!
To Elsie Archer, as always, for her beautiful artwork.
To Doug and Alison Logie at Open Range Digital for their techie work scanning Elsie’s painting onto a disk.
To Zenna Liber, for her graphic design genius.
And to Robb Lusier, at Eagle Signs, who did a beautiful job of printing the posters.
Okay – enough bla bla.
I know you’re dying to see Elsie’s much-more-elegant version of the picture I first sketched eighteen years ago.
Here it is:
I feel uplifted whenever I look at it!
And inspired to keep acting on the ideas that come to me (perhaps even acting on them a little sooner than I have in the past).
Imagine, looking up from your daily round and seeing your name on this poster:
How could you not be reminded that your arrival on this planet changed everything? That your presence is of incredible importance to the planet? That you are celebrated and valued?
My original idea was to write the message directly on the poster, but, once I had it in hand, other ideas came thick and fast.
(Remember, months ago, when I shared Bill Harris’s advice to just take one step toward your dreams? One step, no matter how pathetic, and it would lead to the next? And so on and so on? Well, that’s what happened here. Once I finally took the step to have the poster printed, I saw there were other ways to provide this inspiration for others.)
I could write the message directly on the poster,
I could write it in the white space below the painting and add the person’s birthdate in the bottom right hand corner.
Like a limited edition print–which we all are, really.
After all, there’s no one else quite like you, is there?
And then I thought, what about the people who don’t want an 18″ x 24″ poster but would still benefit from this reminder?
She designed some portable inspiration–two postcards and an art card–for people to mail to friends or prop up on their desk, or attach to their fridge. Or even frame.
Art Card and Postcard #1 (front and back/inside)
The personalized message ‘So-and-so’s Arrival on Earth’ could still be written on the front of the card,
and I added Mary Oliver’s oh-so-appropriate quote as the message on the back. (The art card also has this message on the inside.)
Postcard #2 (front and back)
This one has Mary Oliver’s quote on the front and a variation of Hope’s birthday message on the back.
This one is my favorite.
And it is proving to be the most popular at markets as well.
One lady said, as she tucked it into her purse, I really needed this reminder about three weeks ago.
It tickles me beyond measure to know that the next time she hits a difficult time in her life, she will have this beautiful image and it’s accompanying message at hand to remind her who she really is.
Oh–I almost forgot to talk about the font!
You all know my love affair with Vimala. I love her work so much that I used the Vimala font in Leaf (to the horror of some booksellers and the delight of many of the people who have bought Leaf directly from me at markets).
To my mind, no other font would do for something that is reminding people to shine with their soul purpose during their time on earth.
Wow. So much went into this latest Turtle Dream offering.
My hope is that it’s message, like Leaf’s, will ripple out and touch as many lives as possible in a positive, uplifting way.
Maybe even yours.