Tag Archives: writing

Send more #snailmail: National Letter Writing Month

lots of letters

Readers of my blog know all about how much I adore writing and receiving letters. I love it so much that I’ve had two mini campaigns (here and here) to promote snail mail with fellow letter lover Leslie. I love it so much that I have a box overflowing with stationary and notecards, pens and postage, and of course, my letters from others over the years. I think I need a bigger box — collecting letter paraphernalia has become a bit like my book buying habit — I get more before I’ve finished what I have. But I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. One can’t have too much stationary, right?

It’s National Letter Writing Month, so I wanted to share a bit more about why I love the special art of snail mail so much. Just in the past week, I’ve received a handful of thoughtful postcards and notes from dear friends back in DC, and after a few weeks off because of my move, I’ve written a handful myself to be delivered to friends across the country. Just the very fact that I have friends who send me mail ( some quite regularly) all because they know I love it, makes me smile  and makes me cherish our friendship even more. And the postcards I get from friends on their travels means even more to me (do you know how much international postage costs?!), coming from Australia and Hawaii and Italy and Mexico, and elsewhere.

I asked people what they love about letters so much, and here’s what a few had to say:

snail mail tweets

fb letters

Pretty straightforward if you ask me. I think a handwritten letter is one of the most sincere and genuine forms of communication, and of respect. It takes time, it takes thought, and it takes feeling. And the memories of both writing it and receiving it are surely to last a lot longer.

So if you’re ready to send out some snail mail, check out my Pinterest board for some inspiration and options to start your own big box o’ letters. Then share in the comments whom you’re writing letters to this month, and why you love snail mail so much. And of course, let me know if you’d like to exchange letters with me!

Some of what's in my letters box

Some of what’s in my letters box

 

Snail Mail Story Time

typewriterBack in February, I lamented the possibility that the USPS was going to cancel Saturday mail delivery. A long-time letter lover, it was another let-down for an institution millions of Americans have relied on since the late 1700s, and another reminder of how technology, with all of its good intentions, is also changing time-honored tradition.

So another blogger and I decided to rally for snail mail, and offered to write postcards or letters to anyone who wanted one. Writing back was optional. We hoped that our love of letters would spread a little and at least remind people of the joys of receiving mail – the good kind. We were pleased at the results: I think we each sent out a dozen or more notes, to friends, family, and people we’d never met. We loved the letters we got in return, and seeing others inspired to do their own mini snail mail campaigns. Leslie and I have even begun regularly writing each other now – we both wanted a new pen pal! But most importantly, we like to tell ourselves that our little project is what prompted the USPS to withdraw their proposal to cancel Saturday mail. Victory!

Nearly 10 months later, Leslie and I are ready for round two, and this time, we’re kicking it up a notch. We think that writing letters is a perfect medium for storytelling, and that’s why we’re ready to share some of our most personal experiences with our recipients, and we hope we get to learn yours, too. Here’s how it will work:

We’ll take up to the first 10 participants in this first round, 5 for each of us. (don’t worry, there will be more rounds!). Sign up here if you want in.

For each person, we’ll write on a different topic. And to mix it up a little, Leslie and I will randomly select who writes to whom. You won’t know the topic or the sender until you open your letter! Here is the first round of topics:

  • First heartbreak
  • A difficult decision
  • Favorite recipe
  • Offbeat or unusual hobby or interest
  • A vivid childhood memory

We’d love a letter back, too, so start thinking about what you’d share!

So here we go! Let’s get some #snailmailstories going…who will sign up first?

Adjusting the journey is part of the process

writingI’ve been in California for nearly a month. Some days it feels like I left DC ages ago, other times, like I just left yesterday. These are the times I’m grateful for technology like social media, where I can check in to see what’s happening with my friends and in my former city. And I’m grateful to the friends that have been so great about keeping in touch in these first few weeks, texting me, emailing me, reminding me to stay strong and that things will all work out the way they’re meant to.

When I made the decision to come out to California and start this journey, even though I knew the first few months would be a transition, I was already running all the scenarios in my mind of how to immediately get consulting gigs, and how to get my writing published. I’m a planner, always have been. And it honestly scares me to think of not having a steady income after being so fortunate to have one since I’ve been out of college. It scares me to think that I could sit and write every day, all day, for years, and nothing ever come of it. As my dad said, I was looking for the silver bullet, and couldn’t stop planning, as opposed to just using this time to do what I wanted to do, which is relax, write, and reflect.

And yet, in the last several weeks, as I’ve split my time between part-time work for my job in DC, writing, and spending time with my parents, I’ve realized a few things about myself that I guess I didn’t think would be so important and immediate.

For one, living out in the country with my parents is a great way to spend time with them, to focus, and have some solitude. But it’s not for me in the long-term. And I’m not even sure I’d be ready to move to the nearby city of SLO … which means that I very likely may end up in San Francisco, where I can be around more people, more things to do, and more variety. And that’s okay. As my aunt said in a lovely note to me, I’m at a different place in life than my parents, and what’s right for them right now may not be right for me. So if what I need right now is to be in the city, that’s okay.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about of course is what I’m doing out here and what I want to be doing. As I’ve been outlining themes to write about, one common thread kept popping up  — connections with people. Whether it’s through food, health and fitness, technology, or family, all of the things that interest me and make me feel fulfilled involve interacting with people directly and either helping them do something they love, or telling their stories. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed journalism so much several years ago, and why I loved meeting supporters for the campaigns I worked on at my second job. That personal interaction is key for me. And once again, my dad helped me sort through some scenarios; and I always chose the one that involved people, rather than writing in isolation.  So what does that mean? I crave being around people more than I thought I did, as much as I do cherish my time alone. It means that I need more structure to my day than I imagined, and that maybe writing isn’t the end all be all, maybe it’s just a priority, rather than the priority.

And that is okay, too.

There are lot of different routes I could take – I could do teaching, or coaching, or mentoring, and I can figure out how to incorporate writing into any of those.

I spend a lot of energy (too much!) trying to prove to others and to myself that I am capable of something, or that I will follow through based on the original plan. But life doesn’t work that way, and people don’t work that way. If I’ve changed the context of what I want to do a month after getting here, so what? I’d rather do that and be true to myself than force myself to make something work that I’m just not feeling. If I’m more suited to live with my parents for a few months and then move to the city instead of sticking it out here, so what? I’m still near them for frequent visits, and if I need that for my heart and mind, then that’s what I’ll do.

A friend of mine told me to think about things I wanted to accomplish while I had this time. Whether it’s reading 10 books, or trying 10 new recipes, or writing 10 blogs, if I focus on that, then the other things will fall into place in time.

And that is okay.

Overcoming resistance


what a view
My parents are gone for a few days so it’s just me and the dogs on the “farm.” The morning clouds and coolness has cleared, and now it’s the usual hot and sunny with some wind. The back patio is actually quite nice with the umbrella unfolded, and you can’t beat the views of course. I think these few days alone will be pretty telling – will it make the homesickness that has recently come on stronger or will I begin to really embrace the peace and quiet? When I’m one week in (the first week didn’t count because it was vacation), it’s an in between spot in my mind and my heart. I’m lonely and missing my friends, and missing all that DC has to offer within footsteps or a metro ride. On the other hand, the break from endless networking events, happy hours, and nine to five is a welcome relief. Instead of worrying about fitting in a workout or a chance to read for fun or do some journaling, I have plenty of time for that and more. When there’s no one to hang out with other than your parents and not many places that are easy to get to other than wineries, options are few so you have to focus, or get creative.

Speaking of focus, I started reading a book my friend gave me, The War of Art. It’s all about how a little thing (and really, it’s a huge thing) called resistance gets in the way of our hopes and dreams and what we’re passionate about. Everyone has resistance within them, but it’s up to us to control it and overcome it and put our head down, and simply, get shit done. It’s definitely something that resonates right now. It might seem easy to those on the outside – I have time, I have space, I have security, why not just sit down every day and write? But all the little whispers of resistance get in my face: I’m not a good writer anymore, I won’t make any money doing this, I can’t think of anything to write about, I’m bored, I’m restless… it can go on and on.

Having a routine is important, even when working from home. It still means getting up to walk the dogs and eat breakfast, and get other work out of the way. It means picking the spot in the house (or outside) and turning off the wifi and turning on the music (or whatever works for you) and just starting to write. Once it starts… it keeps going, until you’re truly ready to stop. Some days I will only want to write a page, other days, I will want to work on four different pieces. But on the days I don’t want to do anything, I have to remember that’s resistance. No matter the reason, it needs to go away, because this is what I chose and this is what I’m doing. It doesn’t mean that I can’t change my mind at some point, but for now, this is what I’m focused on, and I will only know if this is the right path for me if I give it, and me, a chance. A real one.

The weeks and months to come will be important…perhaps the most important of my journey. I made the leap, and came out here. That was tough. But almost harder is now putting it to practice, living in the moment, and then figuring out the long-term plan. So with that, it’s time to get to work.

So it begins…life in the country

The view from the back of the house

The view from the back of the house

I’ve been on the West Coast for exactly a week, and in my (parents’) new home in Paso Robles for less than 24 hours. A slight hiccup means my stuff still isn’t arriving until Monday, but when it all gets here and I start a new work routine, it’s going to start feeling a little less like vacation and more like reality.

corgi signBecause so far, it hasn’t quite hit me yet. A weekend in Napa to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of my friend followed by a couple of days in San Francisco with another dear friend who moved out here in 2011 has been a stellar introduction to my new life as a California girl. Imagine trying to answer people when they ask, “So, where are you from?” I used to have trouble explaining my Louisiana to Ohio connection, but now to throw DC in the mix, especially right at the transition, is another story. Because I did in fact end up making DC my home, and I felt more in tune to it than I ever did in Ohio, despite living in the latter for nearly three times as long.

First order of business upon arrival to the “farm” was greeting the Corgis of course. My boy McGee is the same as always, and it’s wonderful to be with him again. And Abbey, oh Abbey, she’s a just a little ball of fluff and cuteness that I can barely describe. To be with puppies again is so much fun! And exhausting, for sure. Leftovers for dinner and a glass of wine topped off the first night, and I went to bed with the windows open in my room, all decked out already with some personal touches from my parents.

New coop door!

New coop door!

Today started with a great long walk with Dad and the dogs in the neighborhood, and I got to see just how many great hill workouts I’ll get in. My runs won’t be boring around here. Life on a farm has its duties — I helped Dad build a door to the chicken coop, and later I’ll pick some tomatoes from the garden, and maybe we’ll go to a wine tasting nearby.

But what’s most important is what’s happening right now: the dogs are laying on the floor, I’m in a chair writing, and my parents are nearby doing their own work. Beautiful scenery is all around us, and I get to wear stretchy pants and drink Dad’s fresh coffee. Life’s pretty good in the country so far.

As I settle in to my new home and figure out this journey, I hope you’ll stay tuned. Readers of my blog know I’m not really a daily update type of blogger, but I did want to share this first one with you from California. And if you really can’t get your fill of the Corgis, you can start following corgisandwine.tumblr.com, for lots of updates on… well, Corgis and wine.

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