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I woke and realized when I scheduled the post after midnight, I accidentally scheduled it for tomorrow morning instead of today. Sorry for the timing error.

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Jun 16Liked by Amy Cowen

Book recommendation:

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D

It is the first time I found something that resonated with me so much. It explained so much.

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Thanks for the suggestion, Pattie

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Jun 16Liked by Amy Cowen

“something nice in the gift of time, in the willingness to witness, share, and shepherd a day that feels meaningful” Love this line Amy. Your mom and I were both born in 1949 it seems. I hit 75 in December and have been thinking about this milestone birthday quite a bit lately. Since Covid I’ve been enjoying a morning walk up the bikepath where I meet up with girlfriends (who are GOTV postcard writers and fellow walkers) at the picnic table where we share a thermos of tea and someone brings treats. I much prefer low-key celebrations these days. No parties. A list sounds like a fine idea and maybe beginning it on our son’s birthday which is 6/23 and exactly 6 months before mine. (It will probably take me 6 months to come up with 75 list items.) I will definitely have a listen to the LIST podcast for some further inspiration. Hmmm…a book. Well, my favorite book of 2023 was ‘Someone Else’s Shoes’ by Jojo Moyes. Happy birthdays to Judy and Amy.

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Thank you for your comment, Carol. I love the routine you have of meeting up with other postcard writers at that picnic table!

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Jun 16·edited Jun 16Liked by Amy Cowen

my endless scrolling these past 3 years of living-in-a fog has scrambled my brain enough to make reading a book a rarity. i have been an avid reader since childhood, and i am determined to unscramble and walk out of the mist. my book recommendation is M Train by Patti Smith. have you read it? i found it a beautiful memoir, perhaps suggested before. happy birthdays to 3, two for cake.

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I am sorry about the persistent brain fog, Kathi. That has to be hard. I hope you find the way out. I have not read M. Train. Thanks for the suggestion!

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Jun 19Liked by Amy Cowen

Seconding M Train ... wonderful memoir

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A book that I found delightfully beautiful recently was Shel Silverstein’s where the sidewalk ends. We all have it on our shelves right? I pulled it out to read to my young son, prepared to jump to my favorites, but he wanted every poem, every page- so we worked through it for a few nights. I remembered all my slightly naughty, slightly gross ones that I loved as a kid, but I didn’t remember the depths of sentiment and emotion present in some others. Poetry man, I don’t read a lot but it’s powerful stuff.

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Thanks for the suggestion, Lauren. I haven’t looked at that in years either.

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Book recommendation:

The Highly Sensitive Person by Erin N. Anoch, Ph.D

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Aron, not Anoch

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Amy, birthday greetings to everyone you're celebrating this month. Thank you for your creativity and generosity. I always learn things about myself when I read your work. You give me things to mull and act on. I don't think you fully grok the effect you have on the people in your realm, or how loved and appreciated you are. I'm glad you got a taste of that this week. Sending you my best.

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Thank you, Nan. I appreciate your words. Can you believe “grok” was new to me? Love that.

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The older I get the more often I pause before I use the word “grok.” I’m glad I’ve enlightened you. I think it’s a perfect word. xoxo

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Book recommendation: Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor

Random books that are stuck in my brain: The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino, The Gate to Women’s Country, Sheri Tepper

Two words I think of when I think of your Substack are connection and recognition.

I don’t really love celebrating my birthday, but I really like the idea of making a list.

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Thanks, Laura. I appreciate the suggestions and knowing what books stick for people.

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Jun 17Liked by Amy Cowen

There's comfort in the familiar, peace in the feel of your pens and paper, respite from reality in your creating. Love the rainbow hair cards and whether you do the whole series or not they are still valuable. Happy Birthday 🎂 as we get older they do seem to just pass us by so I'm glad you actually have rituals to mark them.

I love me a good crazy cake. Super easy to make and you can easily do different variations including lemon. I used to call it my Playcentre cake because you didn't need milk, eggs or butter so everything was in the cupboard at Playcentre. Playcentre is a New Zealand early childhood education non profit that is run as a parent co-operative.

My words for the space you hold for us in your writing and Instagram, AUTHENTIC, NURTURING, THOUGHT PROVOKING.

Kia Kaha my friend, stay strong. Sending arohanui,big love, your way 💕

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I had never heard of crazy cake. That’s a great concept. Thank you for sharing the words that come to mind, Lisa. I really appreciate hearing what stands out.

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Jun 17Liked by Amy Cowen

My book recommendation is May We Be Forgiven, by A. M. Homes. Funny and poignant, one of my favorite novels.

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Thank you, Marcy. I love finding out favorite titles like this!

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Jun 17Liked by Amy Cowen

Joy! That is the word I think of when I read Illustrated Life. Your sketches, photos and words bring me joy. I am a believer in the birthday week… why rush the celebration? I hope you enjoy the time with your Mom and the birthday celebrations.

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Thank you, AJ. "Joy" is a complete and wonderful surprise. Thank you so much for that. We love birthday weeks, too. Good approach!

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A very happy birthday to your mother and to you as well. Birthdays are really a special thing for you and I love that. I remember listening to both the 70 list episode and the Fifty before 50 ones. They really made me think of special things I could weave into my own celebrations - something I’m still struggling with doing. I always make a video with pictures and favorite songs from the year for the boy’s birthdays, but nothing much for my own.

A word I think of when I think of both the podcast and here at Illustrated Life is insightful. I’m always blown away by your ability to pull such deep meaning from every day events - broken oven doors, empty olive jars and simple art journals - and I am always left satisfied and thinking.

No cake recipe, but I’m going to be lurking here waiting for a good one to show up in the comments!

🌈💖🌈💖

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Rebecca - Thank you for your note and for mentioning those old shows.... ahhhh.... those olive jars. I so appreciate that there are a few of you who have listened and/or read for years. It means so much. I pulled an "olive oil lemon cake" recipe before I asked here. I might try it. I think someone else has suggested a reliable source, so I'll see how they compare and report back.

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Unless I'm in overload-mode, I'm not a list-maker. So, it's interesting that I've made a lot of lists across the past two weeks. It felt good to cross through things, and it kept me from coming totally unglued as I juggled more than usual. Still, I'm not sure a list of "things to do" would be my approach for a celebration. Maybe it's the result of growing up with a parent who made so many lists, and from them, assigned me tasks. Harrumph! But I love, love, love the idea of making sure the day gets marked somehow. It is, as you suggest, an act of love. I remember giving my father 80 gifts for that birthday. Among the collection were things like mini chocolate bars, that I could count as 30 items. I have no idea how I managed to accumulate so many little remembrances, but it was fun to make it happen!

I'm glad you are still finding ways to recognize the days, despite it the fact that part of the sun has gone dark. I'm simultaneously impressed by and empathetic towards the need to do so, and to write, as usual on Sunday.

Beautiful book: Braiding Sweetgrass

A word for Illustrated Life: Inquisitive

Special birthday activity: Picnic in the livingroom

Cake: I've never made an olive oil cake, but I trust these folks: https://www.loveandlemons.com/lemon-cake/

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I do think people come at (or move away from) lists from all angles. It's always interesting to me how some find them helpful and some find them stressful. I really love hearing about the 80 gifts for the birthday. That's exactly it -- marrying the count with the occasion in some meaningful way. I love that you did that. (Someone did it for one of my kids when they turned 12 -- much easier than 80!) I haven't read Braiding Sweetgrass, but I will look it up. Picnic in the living room -- nice! And thank you for the source.... I searched and found so many. I marked one, but I figured someone might have a source they trusted. So thank you.

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Jun 18Liked by Amy Cowen

I so appreciate the entire chain of creative work you have devised and shared from the very first episode of the CMP all the way thru to Illustrated Life. Word(s) that I think encompass all of those projects: encouragement, poetic wording, noticing.

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Thanks so much, Tammy.

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Jun 19Liked by Amy Cowen

Encouraging, inspiring, enlightening, and real. Those are some words that come to mind when I read or listen to the Illustrates Life or the CMP. As someone who does low-key birthdays, I love the idea of a birthday list. I would also put “eat Cheetos” on my list. 🧡

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Thanks, Erin. Those Cheetos were on her list that year, and I found it so funny to see when we refound the list last week. Thank you for sharing your words as a reader and listener through the years.

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