New release in the Grief Diaries book series, Christmas Giveaway~

Update: mctag2015 was the winner of the new books. Please message Mary at marypotterkenyon@gmail.com with your name and address~ Thank you to all who entered.

Lynda Cheldelin Fell  lost her 15-year old daughter Aly in 2009. Fueled by a desire to help others through loss, she founded AlyBlue Media in 2013,launched Grief Diaries Radio in February 2014, and the National Grief & Hope convention in April 2015, which is where I met her.

When she began her Grief Diaries series of books last year, I knew I wanted to be a part of them. Filled with poignant firsthand accounts, each anthology serves as a portable support group.

My writing is featured in several of the books, including Grief Diaries: Loss of a Spouse and Grief Diaries: Hello From Heaven.    I’m a co-author of the newest book in the series, Grief Diaries: Poetry & Prose, released yesterday.

grief-diaries-poetry-and-prose-cover

I’m especially excited about this book because of its focus on utilizing expressive writing as a tool for healing. The pieces included were written by those who experienced a loss of some sort. Coincidently, at the same time we were completing this book, I’ve been working on a related project, a grief journal I signed a contract for in August. Lynda will be writing the foreword for the book I hope will be utilized as a healing tool. Clinical research reveals it isn’t the simple act of writing alone that promotes healing in the emotionally wounded. Instead, it is reflecting and searching for meaning in our experiences that helps us heal. James Pennebaker, Regents Centennial Chair of Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, is a pioneer in the study of using expressive writing as a route to healing. His research has shown that short-term focused writing can have a beneficial effect on anyone dealing with stress and trauma.

Reading about grief can help others in their own healing, and that is the concept behind the Grief Diaries. After my husband died, I devoured every book on the market that dealt with the loss of a spouse. It helped me to know that others had gone down the same path and not only survived, but thrived.

My friend, Dianna Vagianos Armentrout says much the same thing in her introduction:

grief-diaries-foreword

Many of Dianna’s poems are included in the book, along with poetry, blog entries, journal entries, and prose pieces from other authors. Here’s one of mine, written on my blog six years ago today:

grief-diaries-journal-entry-12-10

There is more to the entry, but you’ll have to pick up the book to read it. It’s uncanny  that the very first entry in my section of the book is dated six years and one day before this book’s release. Or that so much of what I am working into the journal fits into this book. In compiling quotes for the journal, I could then include my favorites in the Grief Diaries:

grief-diaries-favorite-quotes

Again, there are many more pages of uplifting and encouraging quotes included in Grief Diaries: Poetry & Prose.  I also utilized the resource section of my journal to help me compile a list of ten books that brought me hope in a dark time.

grief-diaries-books-of-hope

Despite my lack of poetry prowess, I even managed to write some poetry myself. Any widow with children still at home will recognize the sentiment.

grief-diaries-mary-poem

To celebrate the launch of this newest title in the Grief Diaries series, I’m giving away two books from the Grief Diaries series: Grief Diaries: Poetry and Prose, and Grief Diaries: Hello From Heaven.

grief-diaries

To enter, just leave a comment below this post. I will randomly choose one name next Sunday, December 18.

 

 

Women’s Friendship Day Giveaway with $25 Barnes & Noble

This giveaway has ended. Thank you to all who entered on our Facebook Page.

It’s here…your chance to win a prize package on September 18, National Women’s Friendship Day, valued at well over $60. Not only are we celebrating female friendship, but also the one-year anniversary of our book release.

First of all, drumroll please…

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We have a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. (not the one pictured)

Next up, a copy of Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink

mary-meOne winner will also get all this; two packages of notecards, “A Prayerbook for Spiritual Friends” by Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw, a package of cloud/sky paper with matching envelopes, “Signed, Sealed, Delevered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing” by Nina Sankovitch (who wrote a blurb endorsement of our book), “Gift of a Letter” by Alexandra Stoddard, the two books recently reviewed by Mary Potter Kenyon, the lovely “Pen to Paper: Artists’ Handwritten Letters” edited by Mary Savig, and “Nobody’s Cuter Than You: A Memoir About the Beauty of Friendship” by Melanie Shankle, and because both of the Marys journal; “The Journal Keeper” by Phyllis Theroux, “Grace for the Moment 365-day journaling devotional” by Max Lucado, and “The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Finally, a box of Sunblooms stationery by Amy Butler with 30 sheets of 6 different designs and matching envelopes.

mary & me prize.jpg

How do you enter?

*Go to our Facebook Page and “Like” it, if you haven’t already.

*Share the Giveaway Post on our Page

*Comment under the Giveaway Post

That’s it. Three easy steps. One winner’s name will be randomly drawn on the evening of September 18.

Good luck!

Pen to Paper, Artist’s Handwritten Letters

No one would mistake one of my letters as a work of art. Consider the missive I began this morning to my friend Mary.

letter to Mary

We stopped caring a long time ago what our letters to each other looked like. If neat handwriting, composition, and proper grammar had been a big concern of ours, we likely would have written much fewer than the thousands of letters that passed between us in the last 30 years.

Neither one of us remembers exactly how or when we decided not to keep each other’s letters, but the sheer volume of them had a lot to do with it. Where would one store such treasures that numbered in the thousands?

I do have a stash of letters I have saved; letters from my mother, siblings, a few from my grandmother, and many from my own children. Would my brother Bill be surprised to discover that I kept the letters he wrote to me when I was 16?

Bill letter

I thought then, and still do today, that my brother’s handwriting reflected an artsy soul. A 2009 letter from my nephew Garrett seemed a precursor to the talent he has since developed as an artist.  I discovered a similarly decorated envelope among my mother’s things after her death. She, too, saved his letter.

Garrett letter

All together, my saved letters number fewer than what Mary and I might have written in our first ten years of letter-writing, but they still take up a good space in the trunk where I store them. Handwritten letters are indeed a treasure trove, as attested by the stash I’ve kept in a trunk and in books like this one.

pen to paer

Pen to Paper: Artists’ Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, edited by Mary Savig, is truly a work of art in its own right.
A collection of letters by artists from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, the book reveals how letter writing can be an artistic act, just as an artist puts pen to paper to craft a line in a drawing. Brief essays explore what can be learned from the handwriting of celebrated artists such as Mary Cassatt and  Maxfield Parrish. Each letter is accompanied by an archival image of the artist or a related artwork, with a full transcription at the back. (I needed those transcriptions as the penmanship was difficult to decipher at times.)

I was surprised to see a Dubuque, Iowa art professor listed in the book. Sister Mary Paulita (Helen) Kerrigan, was a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She devoted her professional life to painting and teaching, serving for 48 years as an art professor and artist-in-residence at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa. In 1962, she left Iowa to spend the summer studying at the Art Students League of New York, sketching in the streets of Manhattan and painting in a studio. This letter was her thank-you letter to noted painter and sculptor Charles Alston.

clarke college

Her handwriting demonstrates the Palmer Method of penmanship, popular especially in Catholic schools in the United States throughout the 20th century. Many of us remember the repetitive drills that brought us our own fluency in similar cursive handwriting. My mother took some art classes at Clarke College before marrying my father. I wonder now if one of her instructors was Sister Mary Paulita.

You can see the same style of handwriting in my mother’s letters that I have saved.

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More than thirty years later, my mother’s written words can bring tears to my eyes. This letter, written in December 1985, was penned during a difficult period for my parents. My mother wasn’t sure she would make it to my mid-December college graduation. She didn’t explain until later why she and my father did not attend. But despite the difficulties they were facing, my mother attempted to look at the brighter side of things, to “be surprised how God works and feel very blessed.”

It is the words “I love you and am so proud of you always” that brings tears. I admit, at the time this letter was written, all I’d seen when I read it was “I might not be there.”  The “It’s a hard life isn’t it!” speaks volumes to me today, the hint that there was so much more to her absence than she could share in a letter.

This treasured letter makes me smile, too. “My heart is full of poetry, like Angie says.” The sister my mother mentions now writes poetry. “And maybe just how you feel, too, Mary?” Yes, oh yes. What a letter written more than 30 years ago can do for me today is make me feel as though my heart, too, is “full of poetry.”

What letter we might write today will be pulled out of a trunk 30 years from now to bring both tears and joy to the recipient?

This lovely book is just the beginning in a series of letter-writing and friendship related books we plan on reviewing in this blog during September. Many of the books reviewed this month and in the past will be included in a prize package drawing on September 18, which is National Women’s Friendship Day. Stay tuned for your chance to win this book and many others.    –Mary Potter Kenyon

Caption That Photo Contest

In celebration of the arrival of spring in Iowa, the Marys are offering this great prize package to one winner, whose name will be drawn at random from those who enter. The prize package includes:

  • $10 Walmart card, not pictured
  • “Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art”
  • Paperchase lined magnetic note pad with butterflies on
  • small butterfly note pad
  • Kelly Rae Roberts “Nurture Your Soul” bookmark
  • Paperchase Anchors Ahoy writing set, 20 writing sheets, 10 envelopes
  • Papermate Ink Joy pens

caption contest 008To enter, follow these steps:

1) Go to our Mary & Me Facebook Page and “LIKE” it, if you haven’t already.

2) Comment underneath the “Caption That Photo” contest post with your caption for our photo.

3) SHARE our contest post

That’s it! One winner will be chosen on March 27.

caption contestCaption this photo on our Facebook page for a chance to win- What are the Marys saying to each other?