Usually a stop at the mailbox means bills, junk mail and maybe some kind of advertisement. Honestly, most everything that is delivered to me on a weekly basis goes right into the trash. In this day of technology we forget the simple art of writing a letter. It is too easy to pick up our phones and send a text, email or message on any number of social media platforms. We are too quick to go to our keyboards before picking up a pen. For this reason the next generations will never be given a stack of letters written by their parents or grandparents, and that is a shame.
I never remember having a pen pal as a kid, but not long ago I was reminded of the joy of sending things through the mail, and now I am hooked. The inspiration actually came from a few sources almost simultaneously. The first, ironically, is a Rebecca, friend I met on social media who is a big lover of letter writing. She would post pictures of the amazing things she received and I was envious. The second influence was a selection of letters my grandparents wrote while they were dating. Reading those letters you can see their relationship grow as they fall deeper in love with each other.
My friend, Rebecca is the creator behind Grace & Salt ink, a small business in England specializing in leather travelers journals. One of her promotions is a challenge called “I sent love in an envelope”. This challenge was a huge inspiration to create and find some pen pals. I have written letters to friends and family, and sent out packages near and far. Each envelope I send out is adorn with the hashtag #ISentLoveInAnEnvelope. Sometimes I get something mailed back, but most of the time I get a text message or social media response. Either way I truly hope getting something in the mail makes the recipient smile and feel loved.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1
Since I started my crusade of letter writing I have gained pen pals from South Africa, Germany, England and across the country. Some of them are old friendships expanded to letters, others are people I only know from the pictures they post on Instagram. I always look forward to checking the mailbox each day to see if there are any goodies from near or far. Not only do these letters serve as a way to communicate, but also to be creative while still working within the confines of an envelope. Every letter I look forward to see what I will find inside. I have received pictures, washi tape, creative little pieces and so much more. Each letter challenges me to come up with new ideas to put a smile on their face, and I do my best to send letters that inspire.
As my list of pen pals has grown I was having a difficult time keeping up with the coming and going of letters. In my search to find a solution I came across people creating journals to track their pen pals. To me this was the perfect solution, and so a new journal was added to my inkDori and the tracking began. I decided to keep my tracking simple, I list the pen pal, if I sent or received, the date and notes. It is fun to watch the page fill up with each letter.
My upcoming letter writing adventure will be starting in April. I have decided to take up the challenge of writing to one person a day for National Letter Writing Month. That means a minimum of 30 letters in 30 days. If you are thinking this seems like an intimidating task, I agree with you, but I am hoping with some pre-planning and organization it will be achieved.
My first step was to create a plan. I knew on the average day I would not have time to write a letter, so I decided to send out postcards. In the words of Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Lewis Carrol and Phyllis Theroux I found inspiration. Each quote embraces the best parts of letter writing and I am excited to send them out to friends and family each day. Second, I started a tentative spreadsheet with names and address of those to send letters to. I am sure before April gets here I will end up adding a few extra names to the list, but I am happy to have a starting point. My hope is that if there is a plan in place that I will be able to follow through on the 30 day challenge.
I know I will never have stack and stacks of letters like my grandparents, but hopefully I will have something tangible to share with future generations to show that letter writing is not dead.
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