When Vivian Greene asserts everything in life is a gift, it's not out of
naiveté. The creator of Kisses® cartoons and greeting cards has maintained an appreciative spirit while moving through a great deal of loss in her life.
She lost long-time love Toby Stone to cancer. She lost 18 years worth of work when Hurricane Andrew hit her Florida headquarters. And she lost virtually all of her remaining possessions in the process of shipping them to Hawaii. Her response? "I'm infinitely resilient. I have so much love in my life. Unconditional love is all that really matters"
"The kindness I receive is just absolutely priceless," acknowledges
Greene. "What I've really learned is nobody can take away what's
Not that it has been easy, said Greene, but she has a blessing to show for each loss.
Greene, who launched Kisses® in 1971, used what she learned from Stone's life and death to write
"Good Mourning", a book on grieving published in 1989. She recently followed up with (soon to be released) "Mourning Glory".
When Hurricane Andrew wiped out the business that had moved her into the millionaire ranks by the age of 26, she saw it as an opportunity to head in another direction. "I said, 'I'm just going to go to Hawaii to do this'".
And the latest loss of her personal property has given her new insight into the generosity of others around her.
"The kindness I receive is just absolutely priceless," acknowledges Greene. "What I've really learned is nobody can take away what's really mine."
Friend and fan for five or six years, Local attorney Michael Lilly described Greene as bright, artistic and extremely energized. "I think probably her greatest gift is her creativity."
Greene presented him with one of her oil painting depicting a bewigged judge with a kid standing in front of him whose suspenders had popped and pants had fallen to reveal underwear adorned with hearts. Its caption is
"She presents it all in this lovely, delightful caring sort of way," said Lilly. "It's all kolohe."
"She has these delightful little characters that are children. They're so much like all our children, so when you read them you're identifying your kids in her characters."
Greene recently added a line called "Island Kisses"®, inspired by her new home,
She created 10 designs to test the market and they seem to be doing well.
A card with a world family theme has keiki (children) of different nationalities surrounding a globe with Hawaii at its center. That one sold out. Another popular card portrays a hula dancer on the cover with the text "I'm here and you're there. Don't you think one of us is in the wrong place?"
Greene designed the cards to appeal to locals as well as visitors.
Unity Bookstore on Moriarty Avenue carries "Good Mourning" and plans to add Greene's cards after moving to its new location at Unity campus this summer.
Bookstore manager Robert Bright thinks the lightness and spirituality of Greene's art explain its appeal.
"People respond to it," he said.
Greene would like to create an art center in Hawaii and plans to buy a home here once her finances are arranged.
"Hawaii has been very good to me," she said. "Since my business is so artistic and spiritual, I think this is one of the best places on the planet I could be."