Tag: letter writing

The Journal Journey

The last few weeks haven’t exactly been stress free. In fact, they’ve been among the most stressful I’ve been through in quite some time. How appropriate is it, then, that I just happened to scribble something about writing as therapy a couple weeks ago? My subconscious is so far ahead of me, I’m sometimes a bit spooked.

In rereading that post, it struck me that there are lots of way to channel thoughts via creation … writing or otherwise. Variety is the spice of life, so I’m a big fan of choices when it comes to exploring my thoughts via creativity. Here are some of the avenues in which I use journaling — or some version thereof — as a tool for self reflection or letting my thoughts run away …

> Traditional journaling — Pen to paper. I usually use lined journals, but I almost always use an array of colorful pens, and I often tape ticket stubs, note scraps and other souvenirs from life on the pages. Read more…

The Postcard Package

040313 Postcard package 300x225 The Postcard PackageAs much as I love the concept of the Forever stamp, and as much as I appreciate the fact that there is a consistent rate for sending mail overseas now, there is one thing I hate: The cost of sending something—anything—to a foreign country. A letter that meets the very maximum standard requirements to use a global Forever stamp costs the same as a three-line postcard. Quite frankly, it’s a racket. Just as there are different rates for mailing a postcard versus a letter within the United States, I believe there should be different rates for mailing a postcard versus a letter to a destination outside the United States.

I frequently exchange letters with our first foreign exchange student, who lives in Slovakia. When I travel, I like to pick up postcards to send her way, but sending a postcard from every destination I visit would become cost prohibitive very fast, especially on trips where I visit more than one interesting place. On a road trip late last summer, I created the idea of a postcard package, which is a fun and much cheaper way to share my experiences with her. Every day (or at every interesting stop), I pick up a postcard, which I date and then write a short note about the site or what I did during the day. At the conclusion of my trip, I have several dated postcards already written, which I then send in a single envelope, often with a full-fledged letter. I always get this envelope weighed because it often weighs a little bit more than what a global Forever stamp covers, but it is so much more affordable than sending each postcard individually. Plus, our girl gets an eclectic collection of fun stuff in a single mail delivery. Read more…

The Relationship Between Reading and Writing

At the turn of the new year, someone asked me how she could become a better writer. Were there any online resources that could make her a better writer? What tips did I have to offer this would-be wordsmith?

At the turn of the new year, this same person posted on Facebook that, in 2013, she was setting the goal to read four books. Four. Books. Not per month. Not even per quarter. Four book over the course of the year.

I understand that not everyone likes to read. It’s not easy for everyone, and it takes time and effort that some people don’t think they have available. Nonetheless, I believe that one of the keys to becoming a better writer is to read. A lot. Everything. All the time. I don’t think I read nearly enough—my goal this year is to read 30 books and I also read dozens of magazines and long form pieces over the course of any given month—but to read only four books in a year? I was not only surprised but saddened to hear that someone who wants to make her living as a writer reads so infrequently. Read more…

Feeling Connected in an Increasingly Connected World

In the pre-online-reliance age, it was said that we were all separated by six degrees. A study in late 2011 found that Facebook shrunk this distance of separation to just over four degrees. Given the wealth of social networks now rampant in cyberspace, I can only assume that we are even closer to people through online relationships than ever before.

Nonetheless, a lot of people are starting to question how healthy it is that we’ve become so wrapped up in our online lives. A lot of people I know have recently scaled back on their Facebook usage (and they’re not the only ones). A few have started setting aside time and space every day when cell phones and computers are not invited into their lives. Still others are recommitting to getting enough sleep, making time for passion projects and focusing on their health and wellness instead of their connectivity. Now that we’re living with teenagers in our house, I can’t help but notice how much time they spend on their smart phones. They start with texting, then Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram, then Snapchat and then they’re back to texting before heading through the whole cycle all over again. What a strange way to build personal relationships. Read more…

The Letter Writing Routine

As much as I love the weekends where I surround myself with letter-writing goodness, it’s not feasible to spend every weekend like this. Though I get up with my husband at 5:30 a.m. a few days each week, it’s hard to jump right into the heavy-duty work stuff, so I’ve taken to pouring myself a cup of coffee and writing one letter every morning before our foreign exchange student gets out of bed. I admit to having a small mountain of correspondence that needs my undivided attention, so it’s been nice to focus my attention on one letter at a time when it’s quiet in the house and I don’t have a to-do list a mile long staring me in the face.

When I reread a letter before responding to it in the morning, I’m still blown away by all of the amazing people who got in touch with me over the last year—and who continue to reach out when finding this blog somewhere in the hazy blogosphere. I’ve met so many interesting people with fascinating jobs and intriguing life stories. Every envelope I open is a new surprise and exciting adventure. Thank you, all of you.

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Happy New Year from The 52 Letters Project!

It’s so hard to believe that I have completed my goal of writing 52 letters to 52 people in 52 weeks. I’m so excited to ring in the new year with several new friends and pen pals, people who enjoy writing snail mail as much as I do. Thank you to everyone who sent holiday greetings and handwritten letters right up to the last day of the year.

I just sent out the first e-letter of the new year, in which I detail my plans for this site for the upcoming year, but suffice to say I’m going to keep my blog alive. I rang in the new year with a stack of letters that I have to respond to, and I can’t wait to get writing. While I was traveling over the holidays, I tore several pages out of magazines, and in 2013, I’m going to try to make my own envelopes. I love when people send creative handmade envelopes, and this year I want to do something similar. Read more…

Tis the Season for Seasons Greetings!

121312 Stack of letters 225x300 Tis the Season for Seasons Greetings!Except for a few small stragglers, my holiday cards have been signed, sealed and sent out the door! This year I sent around 100 cards to friends, family, pen pals, clients and other folks. I had a blast putting everything together, and though the boys in my family put in their time and effort to help the cause, I think I probably got the most joy out of the process.

A couple things that surprised me while getting our cards together this year:

> I had to chase down A LOT of addresses! I know people move because I can see their status updates on Facebook and can “watch” the move take place, but no one sends out an update on what their new address is. I’m in the process of moving all my contacts to an online system, and I made sure everything is now up-to-date as we move into 2013. Read more…

Week #46: Alyce

111312 Alyce 300x225 Week #46: AlyceWriting to my mother-in-law isn’t like writing to my mom. With years of history behind us, my mom and I can easily correspond with each other, but my mother-in-law and I don’t have that close of a relationship. When we get together, we exchange pleasantries and get along well enough, but like my relationship with my sister-in-law, that’s about as far as it goes. Obviously Alyce and I have something in common that will tie us together for the indefinite future, so our relationship has the opportunity to potentially grow over time even though my husband seems to be the only thing binds us.

Alyce had the opportunity to meet Alexandra last year, so my letter to her talked a lot about what we’ve been doing as a family now that we have a different student living with us. I wrote to her about the things we’ve been doing—especially with company in town as of late—and noted a few things going on in my professional life as well. In general, it was a fairly surface-level piece of correspondence, but that’s the kind of relationship we have right now. Maybe that will change someday.

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Thoughts on Letter Writing: Week #45

It was Friday night in Las Vegas. I was in Caesars Palace hotel and casino. I wasn’t gambling or at a show, dining at a fancy restaurant or shopping in the Forum Shoppes. Nope, I wasn’t doing any of those things. Instead, I was sitting in a dining area, sipping a cup of hot chocolate, writing letters to some of my new pen pals. Now that’s a way to spend a Friday night in Las Vegas!

The timing was perfect. My husband was at his school directing a school play. Our foreign exchange student was at a high school football game. My sister and brother-in-law were at my favorite Las Vegas show, Absinthe. That left me with about two hours to spare all by myself on the Las Vegas Strip on a Friday night. It was such a relief to be able to just sit down and enjoy some stress-free time to write letters. Of course there were other things I could have been doing: gambling, shopping, wandering the Strip, taking photos. None of those things sounded nearly as interesting as just sitting down and digging in to my ever-growing pile of correspondence. Read more…

Thoughts on Letter Writing: Week #42

It’s hard to believe this is week 42 of The 52 Letters Project. I feel like I just launched this project to follow my journey of letter writing for a year, and yet I’m down to ten short weeks. Admittedly, I’ve written way more than 42 letters this year. In addition to the ones you read about on this blog, I’ve been writing to many new pen pals who have gotten in touch my contact page (hi new friends!) and I’ve written several letters to some of the people featured.

Admittedly, I’ve been thinking long and hard about which ten people I should write to in the coming weeks as my list of friends and family with whom I’d like to get in touch is quickly dwindling down. It’s hard to think of 52 people to whom you should write a letter, but I’m going to keep trucking along because this has been such a valuable exercise in time management and prioritizing. Writing letters is something that I’ll always do, but I realize now how important it is to make time for the activity and not just squeeze it in when I have “free time.” If that was the case, I’d probably only write to people a few times a year.

How has your year been? Have you written 42 letters? Do you have ten more people in mind as 2013 comes sneaking up on us?

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