Independent Bookstores – my favorite!

My mom is a librarian and my sister demanded no less than 4 books read to her each night when I was en utero so clearly I am an obsessive reader…..and letter writer….well I guess I am an obsessive everything.  I worked at Barnes and Nobles when I was in college and barely took home a dime. When I moved to NYC 18 years ago my passion for independent bookstores grew exponentially.  When I lived uptown, my favorite was The Corner Bookstore on Madison Avenue.  The cash register is enough to make you faint.IMG_5409As my life progressed downtown I became a regular at Three Lives & Company and McNally Jackson.  McNally Jackson has one heck of a card section so it’s pretty much where my budget goes to die between the books and the cards. This is a pic of one of my recent hauls : ).IMG_8114

It is also situated on my my favorite walk in the city, the route from Soho through Tribeca to my apartment.  Probably my FAVORITE thing to do in the world is wander around NYC.  I fancy myself a Flâneuse which is defined as the feminine form of flâneur; an idler, a dawdling observer, usually found in cities (as coined by Lauren Elkin in her amazing book Flâneuse).  More on that in another blog.  When a wander includes McNally, or any independent bookstore, it’s heaven.

But the reason I love both of these stores and truly any independent bookstore is that I find book treasures that I would never discover in a big chain store.  Case in point a book I found a few weeks ago on one of my dawdling wanders through McNally Jackson, The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman.  Of course it was the title that first caught my eye – the reference to a postman.  When I read the premise I was shocked.  I stood at the table and read up to page 8 and after this passage, I knew I had to read the book:

“Bilodo was an unusual postman.
Among the thousands of soulless pieces of paper he delivered on his rounds, he occasionally came across a personal letter – a less and less common item in this era of email, and all the more fascinating for being so rare.  When that happened, Bilodo felt as excited as a prospector spotting a gold nugget in his pan.  He did not deliver that letter.  Not right away.  He took it home and steamed it open.  That’s what kept him so busy at night in the privacy of his apartment.”

IMG_8116I guess now I know why it takes so long for some of my mail to be delivered.  Just kidding USPS!  This slim little novella captured my attention and I must admit I was a little on edge the entire time I read it, constantly waiting for Bilodo to get caught.  If you love mail, all things postal and poetry, you will love this book.  And there is a sequel which isn’t out yet.   Not giving anything away but it’s called The Postman’s Fiancé.

Until the next note, Rhea

 

 

Dear Sally…

Saturday night I had the pleasure of seeing Lillian Helman’s The Little Foxes on Broadway with two theatre actresses I am absolutely enamored with – Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon.  I saw Cynthia Nixon in Wit years ago and vowed to see her on stage whenever I could.  On the subway ride home, I got to thinking about the fan mail I recently wrote to one of my favorite actresses, Sally Field. In March, I saw her in The Glass Menagerie and it took my breath away. But more than that, it left a deep imprint on me and the show kept flashing through my mind weeks later.  This new interpretation of this great work has been controversial but boy did it ever hit the nail on the head.IMG_7653

A week ago after reading an article in the Sunday Styles I decided to write Sally Field a letter.  Not just about my thoughts about the show but about her career and what it has meant to me throughout my life.  I sat outside at the Sweet Corner Bakeshop on the corner of Hudson and Charles in the West Village and put it all on paper. It started on an Iron Curtain Press card and continued on Rifle stationery.  As it usually happens, the words just flowed out of me.  I started with Gidget and and the Flying Nun and went through each role, without using Google, just my memories of Ms. Field each time she touched me the deepest.  With each of those roles she became that person and I could find each of them within me.  As I type this I realize that in my stream of consciousness letter writing, I forgot to include the movie I have seen 10 times – Steel Magnolias and the line I quote to myself all the time – “Your colors are pink and pink”.  Oh well, she won’t mind the omission.  IMG_8085

I used to work for a celebrity who wrote back to every single piece of fan mail she received.  Quite and achievement.  I don’t expect Ms. Field to write me back, that wasn’t the purpose of this letter or any of the others I have written to famous people who have touched me.  It was simply to let her know that what she set out to do with each role was achieved.  She knows when she looks at all her awards and reviews and wealth that she has succeeded but sometimes it makes all the difference in the world to hear it from the person who showed up at the theatre or tuned into the show week after week (Brothers and Sisters – boy I miss that show!).  And that is reason I write letters – to let someone know that I was holding them in my mind with love.

Special Delivery….

After I finished the letter and lettered the enveloped in true Devoted Diarist style, I had the brilliant idea that I would walk it over to the box office where I bought the ticket to The Glass Menagerie and ask them to give it to her.  My office is right next to the Theatre District so I always buy my tickets in person to hand pick my seats and avoid service fees.  I sprung the news on my colleague, Kara that we were walking to the Belasco Theatre at lunch to see if they would accept a letter for Sally Field.  She was game.IMG_8161

Much to my excitement when I asked if I could leave a letter for Ms. Field, the gentleman at the box office said “you need to leave it backstage.  Go around to the stage door and ring the buzzer”.  The man who let us in was so lovely and said he is the first person Ms. Field sees when she arrives and he would be happy to deliver it.  I was so thrilled to know that she would actually receive the letter that I skipped up the street on our way to get lunch.  I don’t expect a response from her.  This particular fan mail, was a deep and sincere thank you to a role model and icon – and a thank you note needs no reply.

Until the next note, Rhea

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Part 2 of my interview with Of Note Stationers – partners in letter writing

IMG_7140After 10 months of writing letters in 2016, Kate, Isabel and I, finally met at the Renegade Craft Fair in NYC where Of Note Stationers had a beautiful booth.  It was amazing to meet in person for the first time and yet feel like I was meeting old friends.  We went for coffee after the Fair wrapped up and the conversation that ensued remains one of the most thought provoking discussions of my year.  It worked out just perfectly that evening as it does with things that are meant to be, that I got to spend time with Kate and Isabel together and time alone with both of them.  And as I walked away from the subway car that carried Isabel off to Brooklyn, I thought to myself – these are two remarkable ladies.  I’m so glad I took the chance to reach out to them and forge a connection that will never be broken.  Here’s part two of my interview with them and a very special Flipogram of my correspondence with them.

Your Make America Love Campaign is so amazing.  What inspired you to create it?  What is the most magical thing that has come from this endeavor?

KK: It was our participation in the Women’s March that prompted us to create our Advocacy Postcards. We owe it to the Women’s March organizers for creating 10 actions for the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. The first action was writing to your representatives and, being stationers, we of course wanted to make our own postcards. The designs were inspired by phrases we saw on signs, or chants that we heard, during the Women’s March.

Make America Love Again is our favorite one because the layout references vintage book covers which we have really been enjoying lately. And of course it ties in so well with our #loveletter campaign! In all seriousness though, it is what we truly wish for our country, that everyone operate from a place of love, first and foremost. Imagine how that would transform the nation.

The most magical thing that came from this endeavor was having a Write-In Event in Boston. We printed 200 postcards assuming that we would have leftovers. Every single card was used. Guess we all needed a little handwritten healing.

IB: We owe it to the Women’s March organizers for coming up with the 10 Actions 100 Days challenge. We were empowered by our involvement in the March and the momentum it generated across the country. Since the first prompt was to write to our representatives, we decided in addition to using them ourselves, we would offer all postcard designs on our website for others to download. We felt it was truly important to have these as a free offering so that together our voices can be heard.

One of the most magical things stemming out of this endeavor has been seeing individuals come together for a cause. In March, we co-hosted a Postcard Write-In Event with our friends at Space Boston and got together with members of the Boston community to write and mail 200+ postcards. Although the event was by no means the scale of the Women’s March, it seemed like at least for the night, we truly made an impact in our community by providing the space for others to connect and advocate.

If you could correspond with one woman you don’t currently know, who would she be?

KK: Just this week, through an Of a Kind newsletter, I stumbled across the work of Alexandra Elle. I should probably read her work first, but I am infatuated by someone who can build their life’s work around self-love, self-care, and healing.

IB: Currently it is Linda Rodin, the stylish lady behind Olio Lusso. I just find her very peculiar, and imagine she would have exquisite handwriting and amazing stories from her past as a fashion stylist.

Kate do you write love letters to your fiancé?  Isabel do you write love letters to your husband?

KK: Yes, indeed I do!

Every year I give Russell at least 12 postcards chronicling different moments from the year, both good moments and challenging moments. After 3 years of doing this I thought I could stop, but he finally caught on to the trend and the 4th year was like, “do I get my postcards this year?,” and so the writing continues. This August will be 8 years.

We also had three years of long distance, so during that time we sent a notebook back and forth that we both wrote in. Russell ended up including our postcards in his proposal and we spent a part of that weekend re-reading our writing from our first year of long distance. When re-reading the journal we realized how this correspondence foreshadowed Of Note.

IB: I do! I do! I definitely write love letters to my husband, but probably not as often as I should. I would say every year for his birthday I dedicate a nice lengthy letter to him, and then every year for our anniversary, we exchange letters. While my notes are long and wordy, his are always so much deeper. Letters are actually my favorite part about our anniversary every year. I know we rarely say out loud the things we are able express via handwritten notes, so it just feels amazing to connect that way and to be able to read, and re read those special words as many times as I want. I guess that is the true wonder of tangible letters, right?

You do a lot of custom work for Of Note.  What types of projects do you love most and why?

KK: Ooo good question. Hard to choose, but if I must, I am really loving our wedding invitation work right now. A recent request was for a suite that was “New York, classic, traditional, and romantic.” This was right up our alley which made it really fun for us to design and then super gratifying when our clients LOVED it.

What is your favorite place to write letters?

KK: Amherst Coffee, a hip coffee shop / whiskey bar, that is walking distance from my house. I like to sit in the window seat with a glass of wine and my letter writing supplies.

IB: As of late it is more of a time than a place. I think I mentioned this previously, but I really enjoy that golden hour and it just so happens that my home office gets pretty good afternoon light. So, I really enjoy writing letters at my desk at home, but most importantly it has to be at the right time.

Do you have any people in your life that you would be willing to only communicate with via handwritten note?

KK: Very interesting question. I think I would be willing to with anyone, if that was the only way, but I do really value connecting in person as well. Letter writing is a great way to deepen relationships and stay connected when you are separated, but after having met two of my pen pals in person, including you, I wouldn’t want to go back to not knowing the “in the flesh” version.

IB: I think if my paternal grandfather was still around, I would love to communicate with him strictly via handwritten letters. He was not really the warmest human being in person, so I’d like to imagine that I would get to know his warm and affectionate side if we were to only correspond via letters. In addition, whenever I visited he was either reading or writing. I also have this vivid memory of him sitting on his recliner, cigarette in hand, and a stash of recently opened letters on the side table. They were mostly bills, but still, I remember those envelopes. I was actually given his letter opener after he passed, and I put it to use every day.

How do you store your most treasured correspondence?

KK: Still working on this…I currently have a bin that I store under my bed. This has been great considering how often I move. But hoping that I am settling in one place soon, I’d like to invest in some nice boxes (like these) that perhaps live in a more accessible location in our home moving forward.

IB: I have a wooden box on my shelf where I store all incoming letters. I find it excruciatingly  hard to let go of these, so I often just stash all my correspondence in this box–see below– and eventually I go through them. I’ll sit down to re-read them, and identify the most treasured. Once identified, those extra meaningful letters graduate to an additional box on that same shelf (it’s just a white photo box) full of treasured notes ranging from birthday cards written by my late grandfather to anniversary letters from my husband to letters from my girlfriends.

Isabel vase

Thank you Isabel and Kate for taking the time to share your love of creating beautiful stationery for all of us paper LOVERS to enjoy.  And thank you for being amazing pen pals.  As promised here is a visual recap of my letters to Isabel and Kate…..signed sealed delivered, I’m yours ladies! Don’t forget to turn your sound on.

 

 

A very special interview with Of Note Stationers….partners in letter writing

On New Years Eve 2015, I stayed in a woke up at 4am to watch the very first sunrise of 2016.  When I got home, I wrote a letter to a friend, hand lettered the envelope, photographed it and posted it on Instagram.  It was something I had been doing with almost daily consistency since July of 2015.  Two days later I read a post by Kate from Of Note Stationers that said: “New notebook and new resolutions, one of which is writing one letter a day for 366 days”.  I thought, I should do that, I’m already posting almost every day – why not make the commitment?  The wheels in my head started turning at 85 miles an hour as they usually do when an idea takes over my brain.  Within a few days I had designed a 366 stamp and had them hand carved so Kate, Isabel and I could adorn each piece of outgoing mail with the message of our project.  I sent a package to them with a letter (pictured below) explaining what I had in mind and a great pen pal odyssey ensued that continues today.

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Kate had the brilliant idea to interview each other about our 366 day #yearofsnailmail in honor of National Letter Writing Month.  So here you will find Isabel and Kate’s answers to my questions and on their blog you will find my answers to their questions.  Happy reading!

Ladies, thank you for inspiring me to do my year of snail mail in 2016.  What made you decide to do the 366 day challenge?  What was your favorite thing about doing the challenge?  What was your least favorite thing?

KK: I decided to take on this challenge because I felt that if I was going to talk the talk I needed to walk the walk. Isabel and I started this company because we needed an outlet, a means to slow down, a means to be creative, and a means to connect with others. But as our hobby became our job, one that we absolutely love, I didn’t prioritize my own letter writing. Every day I was choosing to encourage others to reach out and connect, but I wasn’t making time for myself and so the challenge began.

My favorite thing about the challenge was getting into a flow of writing. I am no Rhea Abramson though. By that I mean, I wasn’t able to write every single day, so instead, I would write in long spurts, 7 letters in one sitting, kind of thing. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains that during flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. I found this to be entirely true with my letter writing. Words would stream from my mind to the page, I felt fully engaged and present with the recipient, and new ideas of whom I could write to would keep popping into my head.

My least favorite thing was the fact that this style made me feel perpetually behind. Moving forward I can do a better job of being kind to myself and trusting that in my own time it will all get done.

IB: Although this was Kate’s personal resolution for 2016, I really enjoyed being by her side as she took on such a challenge. It was truly inspirational to witness her determination to complete the 366 letters handwritten letters–which she did in early January and I am so proud of her for doing so!! Her challenge also pushed me to write more, as I found myself often corresponding in response to her notes :). I also realized that while our little company is growing and we spend time designing new product, improving our website, attending in person events, etc., that carving time everyday for that hobby, which we fell for, is equally important. After all, it is the reason why we began designing our own cards. I still often struggle to make time during the week for letter writing, but I have found that leaving my basket full of letter writing supplies out on my desk really makes it easier to recognize how important putting pen to paper, slowing down, and connecting with others is for me. My favorite time to write is in the afternoon, when the light is golden, right before sunset. There is something magical about that time and I so wish I was home at my desk by that time every day.

Besides learning about what Kate discovered to be challenging–having to catch up on letters every weekend– it inspired me to take on the Love Letter a Week challenge this year.

I could really relate to your February Blog about vanishing time…..are you liking our 2017 Love Letter a Week challenge?  How is it going for you this far?  Are the people you write love letters to responding?

KK: Yes! I am loving it 😉 With each note we are exploring different ways to express and share love with all Of Note cards. This is a wonderful quote from Krista Tippett in her book Becoming Wise that I am using as my guiding principle:

“Love is another word that is a bit (or a lot) ruined–something we routinely speak of as something to fall into and fall out of. But as a piece of intelligence about what makes us human, and what we are capable of, it is a virtue and way of being…a fantastic new companion in stepping out of fear and into care, and realizing our natural belonging one to another.”

And how is it going…welp…I got a little behind, but I am back on track and finding that planning ahead and staying consistent is key. With this post I am declaring for myself that my love letters are written and shared on Saturday. Please hold me to it!

And yes, people are responding, slowly, but surely. Having your /52 stamp and our “love inside” stamp really piques the recipient’s interest  and makes it clear that this is not just any letter.

IB: This year’s Love Letter a Week has been fun so far! I think my favorite part about it putting our own designs to test. I also really enjoy adorning envelopes with the “love inside” stamp, which we specifically designed for the challenge. I have to admit, I’ve been stamping a lot of letters with it lately–and by a lot, I mean most :). I started off by sending the first letter to my mother in law and received such a wonderful note in return. I think spreading love seemed so necessary after last year’s devastating election that it has truly turned my mindset around as I focus on the positivity in daily life.

Do you write handwritten letters each other?

KK: Yes we do! And Isabel has the best supplies! I covet her date stamp and all the different address labels she has. We use this medium as a way to catch up just as friends and paper lovers. Sometimes we’ll include little treats from our travels like Mrs. Grossman’s stickers or a business card that we liked.

IB: We often do! Before we were business partners, we were friends, and early in the journey of Of Note we would exchange letters with ideas about this paper business of ours. Although we lived in the same city up until last Fall, there seems to always be much left unsaid when we meet up to work or hang out. That’s when we take pen to paper 🙂 I am truly lucky to be able to share inspiration, express my frustrations, ask for relationship or friendship advice, receive movie and book recommendations, share current podcasts obsessions, and even some laughs via notes to my dearest business partner, Kate. She always knows how to put a smile on my face, whether she sends a short postcard, a gratitude, or a more in depth catch up letter. It is so nice to see her handwriting and signature, especially since we correspond via the digital medium on the day to day.

What inspired you to create Of Note Stationers?  What keeps you motivated to create gorgeous paper products?

KK: Dissatisfaction and a need to slow down.  After three years working as a Special Education teacher I decided to take some time off. I was burnt out from working 60-80 hour weeks and needed space to determine if this really was the best path for me. At the same time, Isabel and her husband were planning their wedding and designing their own invitations. To top it off they had a friend letterpress print their invitations. I was blown away by Isabel’s talent and thought to myself we could create something special together.

Leading up to the launch of our business were many months of figuring out who we wanted to be and how we wanted to contribute the stationery world. In that time we established that it was the “just because” niche of the greeting card industry that captivated us. Within that niche, it was the small yet significant moments of reaching out to loved ones that we hoped to encourage.

And in time, Of Note was born. What we especially love about the phrase Of Note is the expected use of it for something extraordinary. We believe the opposite, that pausing to take note is notable in and of itself. The fact that one takes a moment to slow down, step out of his/her day to write, to reach out, and to share, is “Of Note.”

I just blabbed on for a good long while so I’ll let Isabel answer the second part of this question 🙂

IB: Ideas are never scarce when there are two running a business, so it makes it quite easy to continue developing products and putting them out into the world. Often times we are inspired by the things we wish existed, or by the words themselves. At the very beginning we were eager to make our designs a reality, and now that we have a full line (with more designs launching this coming May eeeek!), it is motivating to see the brand almost exist on its own. Meaning, yes, we are coming up with the ideas, but we are also expanding the line so that designs can have “siblings” or pairings of cards that stemmed out of an initial idea. I guess that sounds very poetic, but really there are so many ideas that we’ve written down and discussed but haven’t had time to explore yet.  There are so many elements that drive our business but ultimately it is this idea and desire to create space for the handwritten word and deepening connections.

I have a few more questions about love letters, places to write and special passion projects that will be in the next blog.  I will also talk about the special day when the three of us met.  And there will be a very special video of all the letters I wrote to Isabel and Kate during the 366 days of 2016.

Until the next note, Rhea

Layovers and travel letters

I’ve been made fun of in the past for being someone who has entertainment anxiety.  I consider it a product of growing up on an island in the Caribbean where there wasn’t a ton to do as a kid, which left lots of time for reading (some heroes included – Ramona Quimby, Anastasia Krumpink, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield), writing letters and lots of imagination time with my Strawberry Shortcake dolls.  As an adult, I always prepare myself for downtime on the subway, waiting in line, waiting for friends who are late.  I arm my purse with a book, my on-the-go letter writing kit and of course my Iphone. IMG_3731

This past Thursday I had a 3 hour layover that turned into a 7 hour layover.  My carryon was full of cards to be written and letters from pen pals to be responded to.  When I starred at the departures board in the airport and saw that my layover at first was extended to 5 hours, my first thought was great, “I’m gonna get so much done”.  I scouted out the nearest wall outlet, plugged in my phone and started writing letters. A few letters and 2 hours later on a bathroom break, I starred at the departures board again and noticed that my flight had been delayed again, making the total layover 7 hours.  I texted my mom and boyfriend to let them know and then set up camp again and began writing.  What I noticed at some point in that time was the absence of stress over this uncontrollable change of plans.  I credit it all to the epistolary time I spent with my pen pals.  And of course, I have to give some credit to the part of me that was  well prepared to quell my entertainment anxiety : )

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart” – Phyllis Theroux

One particular letter was to a Mail More Love subscriber who has turned into a pen pal.  She wrote me about a trip she was planning to New Orleans and I was writing back.  It got me thinking about some of my favorite letters to write – travel letters.  I have three kinds I write – postcards from my destination; letters written during travel about all the things I am doing that are different from my daily routine, usually written from a café wherever I am with a big iced tea in front of me; and my favorite, the revisiting letter.  I started writing those with my snailmate, Patrick of Edelweiss Post.  They usually come about organically because of something we are writing to each other. But in case you want to write a revisiting letter for National Letter Writing Month, here’s what I do.  I pick the place I visited that I remember fondly – say Santa Fe New Mexico and I close my eyes and revisit the trip in my mind.  I recount all the details from the trip that I can and by the end of the letter I feel just as enriched and excited as I did when I was actually on the trip. IMG_0015

Since I am on a trip right now, I’m going to sign off of the computer now and write some letters….here’s how one of them might begin….

April 2, 2017
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
82° Sunny

 

Dear Patrick, I’m sitting on the gallery at the Annex.  The breeze is blowing and I’m starring at a cluster of palm trees outside my Grandma’s house………

Until the next note,
Rhea

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National Letter Writing Month…….

….is almost upon us.  I’ve been making lots of trips to the World Trade Center Post Office, my neighborhood Post Office, sending out the 30 Days of Letters Kit for all those people who want to number their outgoing mail.  I was interviewed by my girlfriends over at Of Note Stationers yesterday for their blog and they asked me about what drew me to do the 366 day #yearofsnailmail in 2016 and when I thought about it I realized I love a challenge.

My first snail mail challenge was in July of 2015.  I sent a letter and designed a special envelope each day for 31 days and at the end I was HOOKED.  That challenge is what changed my @devoteddiarist Instagram from postings from my moleskine journal to posting my outgoing mail.  At the time I was a like ho : ) and I noticed that my outgoing mail got A LOT more likes than my art journaling.  Just goes to show that your audience may know you better than you know yourself!  At the end of the 31 days, I had a stack of cards on my desk that I hadn’t sent yet and even better I was coming home each night to a mail box with at least two pieces of real mail – in addition to the catalogs and junk mail.

 

But the best part was the way my mind was firing.  I found myself carving out  time to write, draw or color.  And the ideas kept coming.  Ways to honor the people I cared about by sending them a card with balloons on it because they love balloons, reminders to friends of a special day shared years before, lettering styles I wanted to explore, stamping techniques I wanted to try.  The well never went dry and it hasn’t 637 days later.   Maya Angelou once said –

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

That is totally true for me.  My letter writing challenge had so many unexpected outcomes – a wellspring of creativity, more joy, new friends and a full mail box. Whether you decide to send one letter or 30 during National Letter Writing Month, doesn’t matter. Just mail someone some love.  Until the next note, Rhea

30 Days of Letters – to write or not to write….

…that is the question.  I’m sitting in my hotel room in Frazer, Pennsylvania with noisy sleet banging on my window.  The plan was to sleep in while the snow enveloped the world outside.  Oh well.  Before I sit down at the desk in my room and start letter writing, I thought I’d wax on about National Letter Writing Month which begins in just 17 days.  I’ve had quite a few people tell me they are thinking about doing the #write_on challenge in April but they don’t know who they would write to or if they can really write a letter every day with all the commitments they have in their life.

Science says that it takes 21 days to create a habit – a good one or a bad one.  If you have longed to send more mail and receive more mail, April might just be the time for you to create the excellent habit of writing letters.  What this really means is creating the space in your life to do something you love which will spread love to others.  It doesn’t mean you have to write a letter every day for the rest of your life.  But what it will do is create a special feeling for you that will make you crave sitting down with a favorite drink and connecting with someone special or even someone you don’t know.

So to whom will you write?  Jot down the names of your 5 favorite people – those are the first people you write to.   Even if they live next door – send them a card.  Next jot down the names of 5 people who did something nice for you recently – they get a thank you note – those are next five people you write to.  Do you celebrate Easter or just like bunnies?  Easter falls on April 16th – right in the middle of National Letter Writing Month.  You’re getting the picture here.

The trick to succeeding at any goal, be it weight loss or a 30 day letter writing challenge, is being prepared.  So you need stationery (I can help with this!), stamps, and pens.  The USPS has just released some of the most beautiful stamps in it’s history – Oscar de La Renta and WPA Poster stamps.  They make anyone want to send mail.  You may have all the stationery and cards in your home right now, heck I write letters on shopping bags.  So grab them and put them all in one place – a basket or box or pouch -so you are ready to go.

When will you write?  Ahhhh time, that elusive creature.  I tend to write quick notes during the week and long letters on weekends, usually at one of my favorite coffee shops in Tribeca (in the summer it’s Laughing Man owned by Hugh Jackman #swoon).  I bring my cards and pens in my letter writing pouch, order my favorite iced tea and get cozy.  If I’m at home, I sit at my Carrie Bradshaw desk, light a candle and again get cozy.  I love writing in both places but the trick here is to make it cozy.  Letter writing is the ultimate YOU time…..recharge time that is spent with a friend. Lord Byron said it best “Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company”.  Luckily, National Letter Writing Month begins on a Saturday so you will have two days to start strong.  And if you know you have a few busy days in the upcoming week, you can write a few ahead.

To keep track or not to keep track – that is the final question.  I designed my 30 Days of Letters kit to include a rubber stamp so that each letter you send can be stamped and numbered so the recipient knows what number they are in the 30 Day challenge.  Or so you can take pics of your outgoing mail and post them to social media.  Some people have told me that they will also use the stamp to keep track of a reading challenge they are doing.  Keeping track is not essential.  They key is connecting to your loved ones.  Showing them that you honor your relationship with them enough to take the time to send a handwritten note.

Now I’m going to close the computer and write someone a letter!

Until the next note, Rhea

Introducing the Mail More Love blog

envelope-and-pencils

Welcome to the inaugural Mail More Love blog!  I decided to start writing this blog because there were so many things that I wanted to say about letter writing and stationery that couldn’t be expressed on Instagram.  Unless I became one of those people who writes REALLY long insta comments and I didn’t want to be that girl : ) So I’m going to kick off the blog by answering a question I get all the time.  How on earth do you write so many letters?  Or as it’s sung in Hamilton the musical, “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?”.  

Basically the answer is that I have a lot of energy….but more importantly I am an ambivert.  I didn’t realize this until I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and then I started to really understand myself. I love connecting with people and getting to know them really well and once I do, I like to stay connected.  A life lived on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, followed by college and a few years in Boston and then onto the island of Manhattan has meant that I have collected loved ones in all these places.  The extroverted side of me meets and connects with people easily and the introverted side of me likes to stay home, and sit for hours at my desk creating and writing.  It’s the way I destress, relax and recharge.

Some of you may know that one of my nicknames (and insta handles) is The Card Whisperer.  My absolute favorite way to spend my time is sitting at my desk flipping through my stationery stash looking for the right card to send to someone to match whatever is going on in their lives.  I got such a reputation for this skill with my friends and family that I decided to turn it into a business – Mail More Love.  Matching what I feel, is the finest in stationery out there with my customers makes my heart sing.  My goal each month is to give them cards that they want to send out into the world and cards that inspire the recipients of that mail to start sending their own mail.  My goal isn’t to create the Navy or the Federal Reserve like A.Ham, but it is to inspire people to start writing letters again.  

So how do I write so many letters?  I make the time.  I carry postcards, cards and stamps with me in a mini letter writing kit that I keep in my purse and I write whenever I can.  I’ve even been known to write on the subway.  I love packing up a few cards and note paper and cozying up at one of the many café’s in NYC and writing until my hand hurts.  Because I have a full-time job, I get most of my letter writing done on the weekends and mainly on Snail Mail Sunday, as I like to call it.  Letter writing affords me the luxury of slowing down, thinking about my recipient carefully and thinking about the aspects of my life that I want to share with them – be it the past week, a trip I took, or simply recounting when they floated through my mind.  Last night I wrote a letter from a bench in the Greek and Roman Sculpture Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was magical and I loved having all that introverted company as I wrote!

As a life-long letter writer I have never needed much motivation for written correspondence.  Two years ago, I did a 30 day snail mail challenge in which I wrote a letter a day and posted my progress on Instagram.  That process got me hooked on writing a letter each day.  I’m hoping that some of you reading this will take up the same challenge in April for National Letter Writing Month.  I’ve designed a special kit called 30 Day of Letters for Mail More Love that will help you do a 30 day challenge if you are so inclined.  It will be available March 1st at www.mailmorelove.com.  Now close the computer, put down the phone, and write someone a letter!

Until the next note,

Rhea, The Card Whisperer