The Gratitude Letters – start today!

IMG_1925Those 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.

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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.

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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

My Classiky Desk Tool Box

I purchased my Classiky Desk Tool Box from Baum Kuchen in Los Angeles after asking a long list of questions of my dear friend and stationery GURU Eunice Roe about the box.  It was a considered purchase so boy did I consider it.  Eunice warned me that the box would not be good for air travel, being jostled in a suitcase, it was too fragile, and better suited to be a desktop letter-writing box.  As you will see from all the pics in this blog, I completely ignored her advice.  I will say after the travels I have taken it on, it is still in perfect shape but I do agree with Eunice, it is a better for being left at home on your desk or in your crafting studio.

Rhinebeck, NY – this is the first trip my Classiky took.  I was staying in the woods on a retreat with a dear friend and needed to have all my letter writing gear.

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Westport, CT – I spent last Labor Day weekend housesitting for one of my besties in Westport.  It was so amazing to get away from my studio apartment and have an entire house to myself.  And what a house and back yard it is.  I wrote letters every day and virtually participated in the Letter Writers Alliance Letter Writing Social.  My Classiky was VERY happy in Westport.

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Palm Springs, CA – this was the first time my Classiky Desk Took Box got to the west coast.  I was lucky enough to be invited to the weekend 40th birthday celebration of one of the member of the NYC Letter Writers Society.  I spent one glorious evening that we all stayed in, writing letters.

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NOMAD, NYC – this park off of Madison Square is one of my fave letter writing haunts when the weather is great as it is right under the FlatIron building and looks directly at the Empire State Building.  In a real estate obsessed town, you can’t get any better.

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Davis Bay, St. Croix – Just last week I took my Classiky to the Carambola Beach here on la isla bonita for an afternoon letter writing session and to enjoy the beauty of my homeland.  I had just learned that Hurricane Maria was bearing down on us and I wanted to engage with the natural beauty and let the sound of the waves de-stress me.  It worked and I wrote some lovely letters from this vantage point.

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What do I fill my Classiky box with when I go on a trip:  Rubber stamps and lots of them including my rolling date stamper and return address stamp, an ink pad, many rolls of washi tape, pencils, stickers, erasers, colored pencils, copic markers and postcards.

I collect postcards and I put some of the ones I will never send in the top of my Classiky. It takes them out of the box where I store all my stationery and gets me to feast my eyes on them.  I usually change my two featured postcards every month.

Hope you have enjoyed the tour of my Classiky….it sure does get around – LOL – happy letter writing!

Until the next blog, Rhea

 

 

Hurricane destressing with a letter writing challenge

IMG_1598I lived through some pretty gnarly hurricanes growing up on la isla bonita.  Hurricane Hugo specifically that left us without electricity for 9 months.  Yes, I learned many survival skills.  We also had a 6pm curfew for weeks.  The bright side of this was that I read most of my high school text books thoroughly and as a result aced four AP courses which allowed me to test out of the first semester of college.  Gotta find the silver lining!

So when I found out that Hurricane Irma was bearing down on St. Croix, I was reasonably stressed.  I knew there would be a lot of waiting time before and after the storm with no wi-fi, and likely no electricity.  A light went off in my head that this would be a great time to write letters.  This calmed me down by directing my focus to something I love to do.

After we did all the necessary pre-storm preparations, I got busy packing a letter writing kit.  That kind of makes it sound like a small case.  So let’s be honest, it is a huge gardening tote from Apolis with lots of cool pockets that I have repurposed into a letter writing supply bag.   When I packed up my Carrie Bradshaw desk and put it in storage in NYC, I knew I was going to have to find a way to store all my letter writing gear in a portable way until I had a permanent home again.  One Saturday this spring after leaving a letter writing session at Maman Soho on Centre Street, I passed Apolis.  I have wanted one of their Market Bags since a trip to Ojai two years ago so I popped in to get a NYC version of the Market Bag.  They were sold out so I browsed around and saw the Gardening Tote and thought it would be perfect for all my gear.  I thought about it for two weeks as I do with most big purchases and then went back to get it.

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I packed tons of cards and stationery, my vintage and current postage stamps,  my favorite Palomino pencils, my portable pencil sharpener, my entire collection of Copic markers, my favorite new Caran D’Ache colored pencils, an ink pad, my return address stamp and a few other rubber stamps, my letter writing clipboard, my journal and my watercolor paint set.  And of course Postmaster Patrick resides in one of the outer pockets.  He is a hand knitted doll given to me by my snail mate Patrick of Edelweiss Post.

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Once I was all settled in at Grandma’s house on Tuesday evening, I started writing letters and hand lettering.  We lost our electricity at 9:30 the next morning and Grandma and I sat on her screened in porch all morning waiting for the storm.  Before Irma was directly  over us, I was at the 15 letter mark so I decided I was going to turn Hurricane Irma into a 30 letter writing challenge.  With my mind completely focused on that I forgot about all the terrible things that could happen and just wrote and addressed and wrote and addressed.

When the curfew was lifted the next morning at 6am, I had 31 letters completed.  As you can see from the photo, only one was a postcard full of stickers or my definition of cheating.  Most importantly everyone was safe and sound.  My memories of Irma are now all about time spent with my Grandmother and the 31 people I connected with while I wrote to them.  Here is a little look at my output.

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In the event that you are a nervous flier, writing letters is also a great distraction when flying.  If you want to try a 30 letter snail mail challenge and get your mail box filled with mail, head on over the shop and pick up your 30 Days of Letters Kit.  You may just find that you pick up a habit you can use to calm you during times of stress!

Until the next blog, Rhea