Sweet success.

img_6098When I decided to undertake writing a letter a day for all 30 days of April I was not sure how successful I would be. Now, on day 30 I can proudly say that I did it! Each day I wrote at least one piece of happy mail. Many days more than one.

Before April began I made a list of 37 people, I even had each piece addressed to help me get through the month with more confidence. I figured the more prepared I was going in, the better chance I had to succeed. Even after the list was made I added a few more people. New pen pals that I hope I will continue to write in the coming months, and of course there were letters to reply to scattered throughout.

I am proud to say that my grand total was 47 pieces of happy mail over the last 30 days. I hope each piece put a smile on someones face. There were days that I was not sure I wanted to follow through, but now that I am looking back on it I am so glad that I did.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.

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Visit Grace & Salt ink on their website at graceandsaltink.co.uk 
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My 2018 Empire Pass.

With beautiful weather on the horizon I am excited to have my 2018 Empire Pass in my hand! I am one lucky girl, because my aunt and uncle actually bought my new pass for me. They are huge outdoors people and I am hoping that this year I will be able to do a little hiking with them at some point.

Since my last hike in the fall, I have been looking forward to sunny days on the trails. My snowshoeing adventure was fun, but nothing beats a nice day when I can set up my hammock and relax on a hike. Honestly, I am tempted to get my bag packed today so I can be ready to go the first chance I get! Unfortunately, the first few hikes might be a little too cold for my hammock, but I have a feeling I will take a chance have it in my backpack anyway.

img_5522.jpgMy inkDori is all set and ready to record my new hiking adventures  as I visit my favorite trails, and maybe find a few new ones. There will be pictures, leaves and other odds and ends to add to the already full pages of my hiking journal. I wonder how full it will get by the end of the year…

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.


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Visit Grace & Salt ink on their website at graceandsaltink.co.uk 
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Stacks of letters.

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

img_5029Since 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.

img_5200img_5203As 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.

img_5221My 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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Stir crazy.

img_1618In five days it is supposed to be spring, but I live in New York, so to be honest we will be lucky to be snow free the beginning of April. With each passing day I am getting more and more stir crazy. I miss spending my weekends hiking and setting up a hammock in the woods to read or write. Hopefully before I know it those sunshiny days will be back again. Until then I will do my best to enjoy what I have, at least the end is in sight.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.


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Visit Grace & Salt ink on their website at graceandsaltink.co.uk 
and follow them on Facebook • Instagram • Twitter • Pintrest

Stronger.

Getting stronger takes time, it takes confidence and it takes work. In the last year I have slowly overcome many obstacles, sometimes when I look back it shocks me to see how far I have come. I know the scars left behind are not completely healed, but time is always on my side.

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The people in my life played a massive role in every stage of my recovery and healing, but I am a visual person and there were a few things that have meant more to me than I can express. They are simple reminders that I typically carry around with me, they make me feel like I can get through anything.

The first are my personalized, hand stamped bracelets created by an amazing woman out in California. Her etsy shop is called Old Dog Soul. I discovered her when I was looking for bridesmaids presents and became obsessed with her work. I have purchased many bracelets from her since both for myself and others. I love being encouraged to be strong every time I look down. Often at the beginning, these letters stamped in metal held me together when I felt like I was falling apart.

My beautiful Grace & Salt ink inkDori is the second reminder. On the outside is stamped “Stronger”. On the inside are watercolored pages filled with words and memories. In the past I have always been a horrible journaler, but since my first inkDori showed up on my doorstep I love filling page after page. Knowing that a journal is always close by helps me to feel like I have an escape from reality if I need it.

These simple objects continue to mean the world to me as I rush forward into a new year. It never ceases to amaze me how God uses our connections to people and things to get us through tough times. I came across both the creators behind Old Dog Soul and Grace & Salt ink quite accidentally, and over time we have developed friendship. I feel so lucky to not only have their products in my life, but also them. I hope they feel the same way about me.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.


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Visit Grace & Salt ink on their website at graceandsaltink.co.uk 
and follow them on Facebook • Instagram • Twitter • Pintrest

My desk.

Sitting at my desk has become one of my happy places. When I am there it feels like the whole world is at my finger tips and I can create whatever I want. There are dozens of stamps and washi tapes to use, paint brushes and watercolor on hand, notebooks to fill and pen pals to write. The walls above are filled with an assortment of inspiring words and small things to remind me to smile. Usually I end up having a cat on my lap or under foot reminding me that I am loved.

I wish that I could capture the peaceful feeling I have at my desk and carry it around with me always. Over time I think I will become better at finding a calm peace in all place, but for now I am thankful for the few places I have and will take advantage of them every chance I get.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.


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Visit Grace & Salt ink on their website at graceandsaltink.co.uk 
and follow them on Facebook • Instagram • Twitter • Pintrest

Hiking adventures.

In January I had high hopes for 2017, but they were quickly replaced with disappointment. Although, I have made the best of each situation that has come my way it has still been a rough year. So, in June with the prospect of summer on the horizon I needed a goal. I have always wanted to spend a summer of weekends hiking, I love being on trails, challenging myself and enjoying the outdoors.

So the solution was clear, I got myself an Empire Pass (a season pass to all New York State Parks) and set a goal of getting my moneys worth. The average park admission is $7 so with my $65 investment I had a lot of hiking to do. In total, I hiked over 10 times and let me tell you how cool I felt when I drove up to the gate and said I had an Empire Pass. It was like having a golden ticket!

Christi_Hiking post_4My backpack was supplied with the usual day hike things. Some minor first aid equipment, water and a snack or two, but I also had some wonderful extras. I never hit the trail without my inkDori stored in my backpack along with a home-made altoid watercolor kit, paintbrushes and some other journaling essentials. Most of the time I also had a thin, but sturdy hammock with tree straps, my Fuji Instex camera and my e-reader. What can I say, I like to be prepared for anything.

Christi_Hiking post_journal page_3Christi_Hiking post_journal page_2Rarely, did I hit the trail with a specific plan. All I knew was I wanted to be outside and moving. Each hike brought healing and made me stronger, both physically and emotionally. My favorite part of any hike was when I would set up my hammock and relax. Usually this was near the end of my hike and I used this peaceful time to read and journal, a few times I am sure I fell asleep listening the the wind or a close by waterfall.

There were a few times when my heart was heavy that I wrote and reflected in my inkDori and found peace. One of my journals was for my hiking adventures and nothing else. Within its pages are a record of a beautiful summer spent achieving a goal that seemed unreachable. I marked each hike with Instex pictures, watercolor, pressed flowers, and leaves. I saw so many beautiful sites and watched the season change slowly week by week.

Christi_Hiking post_2I love each bump and bruise my inkDori suffered from being carried in my backpack and used on the trail. Each time I look in my journal I am reminded of what I have achieved and how wonderful it feels to meet a goal. There are still pages left in my hiking journal that I am saving for another year of adventures. Who knows what the future will hold, but with each passing day I look forward to the next time I can hit the trails with my inkDori in tow.

Tomorrow will be a little bit easier and I will become a stronger me everyday.


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Visit Grace & Salt ink on their website at graceandsaltink.co.uk 
and follow them on Facebook • Instagram • Twitter • Pintrest