When I first began thinking about resurrecting this project, it was mid-April. Everyone I knew was in lock-down of some sort. Easter had been spent separated from our places of worship and family members. People were worried and frightened. And because so many folks have been preoccupied with the constant chatter created in our minds by fear, it can throw us into a constant state of grasping for some modicum of control and swirling in a pool of survival mode.
However, I believe in the human spirit. And know that when we can be present in a single moment, it opens us up to see the magic and beauty in the most simple and ordinary things. So when I sought out evidence of this, I was able to find it.
Suddenly, everywhere I turned, I saw people creating meaning within their own ordinary lives. People turned to baking, poetry, gardening, and art. They sought to make their world as beautiful as possible. The need for laughter and lightness helped get folks through to the other side of so much uncertainty about the future.
Is it any wonder that in times of chaos and worry we turn to art and stories?
Though people joked about binging a favorite – or new – series on Netflix, what they were really doing was immersing themselves in a story. And finding connection to the characters on the screen. And the person next to them on the couch.
Getting lost in the pages of a book allows us to experience new worlds and new emotions. Poets distill the power in noticing the tiniest of things. Art can transfix us and feeds a part of us we didn’t quite realize needed nourishing.
When we are able to find kernels of something within us, it’s no surprise we look back to the things we experienced before. A memory of riding bikes with friends as a child or the way our grandmother knew just what treat would soothe a skinned knee. More than one person told me stories of a beloved moment with a parent, the headiness of a first kiss, and how wearing their mother’s perfume gave them comfort.
The prevailing undercurrent was the search for connection and the cultivation of hope.
I knew that in order to fulfill the longing of hope and provide a respite from the chaos of the world, we would need to avoid some subjects. Not because they are unimportant, but because even the most informed of us needs a respite from the worries and fears. A place on the web that was a retreat. A curated collection of the reminder that in the darkest of times, there is always an infinitesimal kernel of light.
The theme of nostalgia, beauty, and joy I hoped for came from the inspiration of a memory from my own childhood – and that of my children: Fun & Fancy-Free. A call to remember the cool sweetness of an ice cream cone on a hot day, how the sparkling light across a swimming pool invited delight, and why slipping on my grandmother’s pearls invoked unconditional love.
When I first envisioned how the resurrection of Summer Love Notes could help us nourish hope, seek beauty, and discover the light, I knew it was something that also demanded community.
So, I turned to longtime creative cohorts and the ladies who helped create Modern Creative Life. Though we shuttered Modern Creative Life in November 2018, each one of us still firmly believes in the mission:
The mission of Modern Creative Life is to honor the pursuit and practice of joyful creativity. We believe that the creative arts enrich our everyday living, enhance our environment, create lasting connections, and sustain our souls.
So, we put out a call to submissions and want to invite you to come along for the journey. As we share the stories of other makers, we invite you to use their experiences as a guide on your quest for beauty and hope despite the worries of the world.
Please join us as we look to other creatives for ways to revel in the memories of other days. And the beauty of each present moment, no matter how imperfect it may be. Let us find joy in the midst of chaos. And the reminder that there can be peace found in both the shadows and the sunshine.
In the months ahead, let us nourish your soul with poetry and invite you to escape in the stories of others. May the creative arts of others inspire you to live a more beautiful life. And if you’d like to share your own stories, poems, letters, essays, and photography, we’d love to have you join us.
About the Author: Debra Smouse
Debra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author. When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf.