Category Archives: His Lens/My Pen

His Lens/My Pen + Great Harvest = Synergy

“My first question to you,” Tina Yancey said, “is why you think your His Lens/My Pen greeting cards are a fit for our store?”  A fair enough question.

Tina and her husband took over the local Great Harvest Bread Company some time ago. It’s been part of my routine on tiling days at Song and Spirit to bring a loaf of bread to the lunch table for my fellow volunteer tilers to enjoy. In the past year I’d noticed a big change in the store.  The atmosphere felt warmer.  There was new cute merchandise for sale — sweet aprons and kitchen towels — and an inviting kiddy table by the window, scattered with crayons and drawing paper. These touches made me wonder if there might be some synergy there, no matter how far-flung it might seem at first glance, to offer our His Lens/My Pen greeting cards in a bread shop.

I told Tina that I had no idea if bread and greeting cards would make a good match. But I did know that she had brought a feeling to her store that inspired warmth and connection, and that’s what our cards did, too. Would she give us a chance?

She offered us a four-hour time slot to create a pop-up shop — a one-time event during which we could make our cards available to customers coming in for their great breads, scones and cookies. Marketing research in real time. If we were successful, she would give strong consideration to carrying His Lens/My Pen at Great Harvest. As an initial vote of confidence, Tina  purchased our Difficult Times card to offer in her sympathy baskets.

Right or wrong, selling can take on a negative squirmy-vibe strong-arming connotation. I’ve tried to surround our His Lens/My Pen adventure in a spirit of sharing and connecting — sharing with others what we are doing, engaging with people and offering a way for them to connect, through our images and words, with their friends and loved ones.

In addition to our cards, I’ve also enlarged and matted some of Martin’s photographs that we’ll offer as well. If you’re on his list, you know his gift of capturing images that drop your jaw and lift your heart. So if you’re local, drop by Great Harvest Bread Company on Adams Road (at Lincoln) in Birmingham, MI. October 15th from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. We’ll be there. A portion of all sales will be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank.

His Lens/My Pen — Walking on Water

Martin came back from the Everglades mightily inspired.  I wasn’t with him, and so it wasn’t until I saw his photos that I was able to enjoy the birds he had told me so much about . One of his shots, of an anhinga in flight, inspired our card about mindfulness. Martin snapped this photograph of an egret touching down, or about to touch the sky, on that trip too.


I was attracted to this image immediately. The contrast of the egret’s white wings against the shimmery blue of the water made this a His Lens/My Pen possibility for sure. Martin had done his part; now I had to do mine. Was the bird taking off or landing? What message or meditation could I draw from either of those actions? Then I shifted my attention from the egret’s wings to its feet, just skimming the surface of the Florida Bay. It does indeed look like this beautiful bird is walking on water.  Bingo!  Now I had the concept, all I needed were the words.

What we strive for when creating a His Lens/My Pen card is to speak to the everyday moments in our lives when we connect deeply with others. If we are fortunate, we have friends or family members we can count on in moments of great need.  I created this card with that dynamic in mind, envisioning a special friend who came to the rescue at just the right moment. Who went above and beyond turbulent waters to steady a loved one through a chaotic time. We need cards for those kinds of moments. When someone saves us, from ourselves or from the random crazy of life, we need to express our gratitude in a meaningful way.

Gratitude, peace, being there at the perfect moment. Martin’s photograph captured it all. Next time someone gets you through, consider sending them this card from HIs Lens/My Pen.

Spread the word. Please share this column FB or your other media sites. Many thanks.


Lighten Up With His Lens My Pen

Who doesn’t feel like this every now and then? Maybe the other monkeys aren’t playing fair, or refuse to play with you at all. Maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the branch or a tourist in your corner of Costa Rica won’t stop taking pictures of you. Or maybe you climbed up the wrong tree. Whatever the reason, sometimes the best solution is simply to lift the corners of your mouth. Every time I look at this grumpy monkey I can’t help but smile.

For those of you new to His Lens/My Pen, here’s our M.O. (fancy Latin for the approach we take.) My husband, a fabulous photographer, is the Lens half of our endeavor. I am the Pen. Our mission is to create cards that reflect universal relationships and experiences by merging stunning Nature photography with spot-on inspirational messages.

Put another way  Martin’s photos are the inkwell that I dip my pen into. When I look at one of his shots, I ask myself, “What is this image saying? What is its comment about a truth of life or relationships? And can I say it in 20 words or fewer?”  When we hit the sweet spot where image and words connect, the whole becomes greater than the parts. A new His Lens/My Pen comes into being.

You can find this card and many others at our Etsy shop. Or if you live in the Birmingham/Bloomfield area here in Michigan head to the BBAC, ArtLoft Gallery, or Karma Yoga. And this week, a great new little shop has joined the family of His Lens/My Pen champions — other Fun Stuff! in Adams Square.

Go out on a limb. Send this card to a cranky monkey you might know and lighten them up. Better yet, prevent crankiness altogether. Keep this card nearby. You won’t be able to look at it without smiling.

Time for some snow fun!

Although the custom has been to post a His Lens/My Pen the last Monday of the month, I figure this image is pertinent now. Who knows? We might have a spring thaw next week rendering this image irrelevant.  Yeah, right. The phrase a snowball’s chance in hell comes to mind. So with snowballs and snowmen on my mind, I thought I’d share this shot of a snowman I built last winter.

When I was a child, a snowstorm hit Atlanta. Real snow — white, freezing, six-pointed flakes — the whole megillah. I scooped and gathered ecstatically, piling handfuls of snow atop one another.  After a couple of hours, my first and only snowman measured about three inches high. Proud and chilled, I went in. He was gone by afternoon.

Up here in the Klondike, snowmen are part of the landscape. I try and build one every season. Those who know me know I’m not, I repeat not, partial to the cold. I’m not one of those who eagerly awaits the brisk turn of fall to break out all my sweaters. But I do love making snowmen.

There’s a wild abandon that comes with making my snowman. Not only do I feel like a child, but I connect to the particular experience of being a Southern child caught up in the utter magic of once-in-a-lifetime winter wonder. Delight bubbles up. I laugh. I drop all curmudgeonly complaints about frigid temps, shoveling, and developing those awful skin cuts around my thumbnails.

For however long it takes, or however long I can stay out there, I am a child once again — happily patting handfuls of snow into place, stopping every now and then to sweep a snow angel or two into existence. Reconnecting with that inner child puts everything else into perspective. I am totally present, at complete attention full and exuberant. Time may wait for no man, march on and leave crow’s feet behind. When I am making a snowman, or having fun in any way, time vanishes and a regenerating life force fills the space.

So go have some fun — whether of the snow kind or another. And if you know someone who needs to remove his or her grownup mask and rediscover that inner child, send them a link to this column. Or send them this card from our Etsy shop. It’s going to be a long winter. Best to season it with some fun.


One Happy Bird

Going for a bit of avian humor with this month’s His Lens/My Pen offering. Martin was out and about in the neighborhood when he snapped this shot of a swan paddling in nearby Quarton Lake. I got to thinking about why no one ever mentions eating swan; I’ve never seen it offered on a restaurant menu, have you? Google to the rescue with this article. Seems Michigan’s mute swan population has increased exponentially in recent years, ruffling a lot of feathers.

I’ll be making a sweet potato dish this Thanksgiving — slice peeled sweet potatoes and apples into half-moons and arrange in rows in a Pyrex dish, alternating sweet potato and apple slices.  Dot with margarine (or butter if you’re not keeping kosher) and then pour over the slices a bit of apple jack.  Or apple cider or even orange juice. Bake uncovered at 350º till potatoes and apples can be easily pierced with a fork. Have a favorite Thanksgiving recipe? Share it here.

Wishing all my readers a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  Gobble Gobble.

Allow the beauty you see today …

When my husband Martin and I began our His Lens/My Pen venture, the idea was simply to create meditations to accompany his images. (If you are just discovering our series, click on the photo and you can enjoy it in a much larger format.)

As these are beginning to be sold in stores (such as Artloft here in Birmingham), we have to remember that people shop for certain sentiments when choosing greeting cards.  At the same time, I want to keep this entire His Lens/My Pen concept fluid and flexible. The Soaring with Friends card, for instance, could be for birthdays, or to cheer up a dear friend who may welcome the reminder that soaring days will return.

When a loved one dies, words are so often beyond reach. Grief breaks us in half, departs in its own time, unexpectedly wafts through our days long after we think our mourning is done. Comfort takes any number of forms—a friend’s embrace; a shared memory; a meal delivered; prayers; photographs; crying as much, and as often, as we need to.

The father of a close friend of my son’s died last week after an extended illness.  Elliot was understandably upset. What words could I offer my son? How might I help soften for him life’s harsh realities?

Our family has always taken deep pleasure in the beauty of the natural world. My kids text me on the full moon, just to tell me they are thinking of me. Often our texts cross, as we are looking at the same moon, thinking the same thoughts. This has been a particularly glorious fall and Martin has sent more than a few image of “their” trees in full gold and russet. All I could think to write to Elliot was to notice something beautiful during the day and if he could, draw even small comfort from it.

Can beauty blunt grief? Dissipate it? No, not really. But in pairing the meditation above with Martin’s shot of these water lilies, I offer the possibility that even a moment of beauty can remind us that life awaits us on the far shores of our grief.

When has a moment of beauty helped soften a difficult time? Share in the comments section below, if you are so inclined. Have a friend or loved one going through a rough patch?  Send them this card from our Etsy site so that they, too, can remember that beauty has the power to soften life’s sharper moments.

Hugging to the Background

Martin took this when we were hiking in South Lake Tahoe, visiting our new daughter-in-law’s dad and step-mom. In Yiddish, the word for your child’s in-laws is machatunim.  Nothing to do with the photo but it’s a useful word, nevertheless.

I’ve felt a bit like this duck for the past few months.  The first half of the year was an emotional roller coaster and by the time June arrived, I just needed to fade into the background. It’s not a bad thing to withdraw a bit every now and then.  Farmers allow fields to lie fallow and thus regenerate; lying fallow is good for fellow humans as well. With the arrival of this new Jewish year, I find myself returning—stretching a foot out here, fanning a wing there, poking my beak into some new experiences.

The ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are a time of reflection, inner dialogue, seeking and granting forgiveness, crafting new intentions or dusting  off the ones that never came into fruition last year. The image of this duck, there for all to see if only at second glance, reminds me to look more closely in this new year, to gaze beyond a first cursory glance. Never know who or what I might find.

What about you?  Was there a time you helped draw someone out from where they might have been biding their time in the background?  What happened? If the spirit moves you, please share this with your Facebook friends and any others whom you think would enjoy this. Or send this card to a friend by visiting our Etsy shop!