Those of you following along here and on Instagram know that Hurricane Maria blew through St. Croix, the current location of the Mail More Love studio, leaving massive destruction in her wake. While the studio itself was unharmed, life here changed dramatically overnight. We have been without electricity since September 19th which makes life very difficult. My post office was destroyed and air traffic halted for 3 weeks which made operating the business almost impossible. But we persevered.
Before the storm came through and I was happily bouncing though life, I had the honor of having Mail More Love featured in The Oprah Magazine. The feature appeared in the October issue and was the culmination of many hours of planning and preparation. My plan was to launch a letter writing campaign called ‘The Gratitude Letters’ to coincide with the drop date of the magazine in the second week of September. But Hurricane Maria had other plans.
I reached out to my dear friend, fellow NYC Letter Writers Society Member and favorite artist Samantha Dion Baker (if you don’t already follow her – you should, her posts will brighten your every day) and asked her to do a little illustration for me of ‘The Gratitude Letters’. We have been working on another project for a few months that was similar to what I wanted for this, so Samantha used a lot of those elements in the illustration of a postage stamp and a stack of letters.
The initial concept was to inspire as many people as possible to send letters of gratitude, post them on instagram and tag the posts with #thegratitudeletters. Thank you notes are some of the first letters I wrote as a child. I can hear my mother in my head asking me if I wrote a thank you note to Aunt Gerry for the birthday gift she sent me – eye roll. The practice of sending letters of thanks has been a lifelong one for me. But Oprah helped me expand that a few years ago when I undertook using my 5 year journal to write down 5 things each day that I am thankful for. The practice was a game changer and opened my eyes that writing letters and notes of thanks for the tiniest of gestures can have a huge impact on others.
For those of you who read my post Hurricane Irma blog, you know that I wrote letters all throughout that storm and what a joy it was. Post Hurricane Maria, I didn’t write letters at all because facing the devastation each day was hard enough and retelling it on paper felt impossible. But now as Thanksgiving beckons I know it is time to launch #thegratitudeletters. So get out your letter writing supplies or head on over to www.mailmorelove.com and buy a box that ships immediately and start writing your gratitude letters. Post them on Instagram and tag them with ‘Thegratitudeletters’.
In case you are stumped about what you can write about, here are some ideas you can give thanks or express your gratitude for: being an amazing friend, that cup of coffee you bought me last year, inspiring me to find another job, giving me your meatloaf recipe, for always greeting me with a smile, for always knowing exactly what to say, telling me about the farmers market, calling me to console me when my dog was at the vet….the list goes on an on. The more we focus on what we have in our lives the richer they become.
Each day for the next thirty days I will write a letter giving thanks for all my blessings. In my post hurricane world, it will be easy to find reasons to give thanks such as – thanks for letting me use your WIFI, thanks for sending me the name of a guy who can hook up a generator, thanks for letting me shower at your house after the storm, telling me which store is selling ice, thanks for listening to me vent……I have tons of thank you’s to write. And this will be the perfect warm up for sending holiday cards! By the time January comes, the habit of writing letters will be established and your mail box will likely be full of lovely return mail.
I hope you get carried away with giving thanks. It is what Oprah intended and what I intend. I also hope it inspires some of your recipients to express their gratitude for acts large and small as well.
Until the next note, Rhea