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Do you remember the last time you got a letter in the mail? I don’t mean a Christmas card or a wedding invitation. I mean, when was the last time your received a letter from someone, “just because”? It doesn’t happen very often anymore.
Chesh and I just had a bunch of people over last Friday for a sushi and movie night, and we watched “You’ve Got Mail”. There’s a scene somewhere toward the beginning where Granddaddy Fox mentions that he wrote letters with Cecilia Kelly, the original owner of The Shop Around the Corner. Joe Fox looks surprised, asking “You wrote her letters?” Granddaddy Fox smiles, “It was called mail. Cecilia had beautiful penmanship. She was too young for me, but she was enchanting.”
Beautiful penmanship and an enchanting character. I wouldn’t mind if someone said that about me by just reading my letters.
This brings me to my topic for today: The Art of the Handwritten Note.
We live in a world where it’s easy to get in touch with people. We have facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat, email, and even skype. Yet why is it that in the midst of all this “connection”, I feel most disconnected?
I make it a habit to write people letters. Hand-written, licked envelope, real stamp, real pen-to-paper letters. I’ve talked before in a post called Letters to Jacqueline that writing letters had been my saving grace. Who knew that putting away my phone and picking up a pen would heal me more than a thousand emojis? As a writer, I should have known.
“Even when my hand cramped and I reached for another piece of lined paper, I couldn’t put down my pen. It was like a piece of my heart had been tapped, and was now leaking all over the page. And the sight of it was beautiful. To me, feeling like I could let out some frustration and anger on the page to someone who was removed from the situation, helped. I mailed the letter, a beautiful six pages of my word-vomit, and a piece of my sadness and pain and frustration. My heart on paper.”
Start with a piece of paper and a pen. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be simple. You don’t have to have perfect handwriting or beautiful stationary. You don’t have to have gel pens or felt tip. Pencil and notebook paper is just fine.
Speak from your heart. Be honest; truthful. Talk about what you’re excited about right now; tiny milestones that you’ve reached in the past month. Talk about your 2018 goals and how you’re achieving them. Put in a question here and there, turning it into a conversation rather than a rant. Go deep. Don’t just talk about your work day and the weather. Talk about how your work makes you feel: inspired, depressed, motivated. Be honest about where your heart is. If you’re hurting, let it leak onto the page. If you’re happy, let it leak onto the page. If you’re feeling lost, hopeless, or hopeful, talk about it.
“But who should I write to? I don’t know anyone’s physical address!” you might be saying. That’s ok! Start by writing a letter to yourself. I think it’s crazy beneficial to write letters to you future or past self. We are constantly growing as people in character and in what we like or who we love. We are also our own worst critic.
This is one of my favorite hacks when it comes to writing letters to yourself.
This book. I seriously love this thing. I Letters to My Future Self: Write Now. Read Later. Treasure Forever. I wrote a post on Christmas Eve called Letter to Myself, and here is an excerpt from that:
During Challenge Day, I wrote a letter to myself, reminding myself of who I am. I am so proud of who I’ve become over the years, and what I’ve accomplished. Someone might say that it’s me tooting my own horn, but I see it less as advertising how great I am, and more as a self encouragement letter. I don’t need to live to please the world. I live to please myself and live to the fullest of who I am as a human who was created to be an individual. And sometimes, I need the reminder that I’m proud of who I’ve become.
You are an amazing person. Don’t let anyone, including yourself say you aren’t. And whether you’re writing a letter to your future self, or a letter to your grandma, best friend, long lost uncle, soldiers serving our country, or even a stranger, use your pen and your paper to open up your heart and be honest with the person you’re writing to. You might never know the kind of healing you can get by simply putting your heart on paper.
P.S. If you’re looking to send a letter to someone and don’t know who to send it to, send one to me!
1128 S Cedar Campus Rd