A little girl, a Princess and a love letter…

Everyone can remember with startling clarity where they were when tragic events happened.  For my mom’s generation it was the  assassination of President Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr.  For me of course September 11th is a big one.  One that really stands out for me is the death of Princess Diana of Wales.  At the time I was living in Boston and had just driven back from 2 days in Martha’s Vineyard where I had been to see Henry Louis Gates, Jr., host a panel on race in America.  I got back to my apartment and tired from the day travel, I took a nap.  When I woke up around 9pm I turned on the news and saw the reports of Diana’s accident and breathed a sigh relief once it was announced that she was alive and only had a leg injury.  Not long after the truth was revealed.

As a little girl growing up on an island in the Caribbean I spent my free time with my nose in a book.  Three of my favorites were photography books on Princess Diana.  I was obsessed with her…those watery blue eyes, her impeccable style and the dresses, oh the dresses.  I remember waking up at 4am in 1981 to watch her get married to Prince Charles and being mesmerized by the crowds, the carriage, the tiara, the train of her dress and wanting during the ceremony to finally hear her voice when she took her vows.  Such a different world than the one we live in now.

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The Principal of my school in 1981 was a red headed British woman named Sylvia Bibby who had a huge St. Bernard dog.  7 year old me found out that she went to England each summer when school was out and immediately thought she would be able to deliver a letter to Princess Diana for me.  I went to her and asked and she said she couldn’t make any promises but to write the letter and she would try to get it to the Princess.  I can’t remember what happened after that but she must have been successful because 1 year later I received a letter from Buckingham Palace.

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I’ll never forget how excited I was to get that letter and to feel the imprint of  Buckingham Palace on the stationery.  In the letter from Hazel West, HRH’s Lady in Waiting, I was told that the Princess was unable to send me an autographed picture.  Despite the fact that I did not receive the autographed picture I requested in the letter, I was still so excited that I framed the letter and put it next to my bed.  And I was on to my next quest which was what is a Lady-in-waiting how one becomes a Lady-in-Waiting.   I tortured my mother to help me figure that out.  Ahhhh the days before the internet.

As fate would have it, I became somewhat of a Lady-in-Waiting.  For 15 years I worked for a celebrity who personally responded to every request she received for an autographed picture.  I remember some years ago when we were on a trip to London sitting on the floor of her suite recapping what we had done during our free time that day.  I told her I had gone to Kensington Palace to see an exhibit of Diana’s dresses and then I told her about the letter.  She marveled at my 7 year old desire and at Mrs. Bibby.  Always one to get the room laughing……I’ll never forget she said “how lucky were you to have a Principal who cared so much”…..and then “so I wonder what ever happened to Hazel West?”.

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August 31st marks the 20th Anniversary of Diana’s death.  I will never forget waking up at 4am on September 6th 1997 to watch Diana’s funeral.  My friend Jenn came from NYC and we spent the day watching and crying.  A few months ago as I was going through all my old books at home I found those well worn Princess Diana books and out floated the letter.  It made me smile at 7 year old me and it made me happy that I sent a love letter to a Princess I loved who enchanted so many of my days.  To whom will you send a love letter today?

 

 

 

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Summer Letter Writing Challenge

I began my foray into writing a letter every day with a 30 day snail mail challenge back in July of 2015.  Below is a FLIPAGRAM of the 30 days.  That adventure filled my world with gems I never expected to encounter.  My own stationery business, a snail mate, friends near and far, a Letter Writing Society, and a role-playing fairy godmother to fledgling letter writing groups across the country, to name a few.  As I saw July approaching I felt compelled to repeat the challenge to connect with 30 special people and hopefully inspire many others to send more mail!

Back in March I launched my 30 days of Letters Kit and it was a big hit!  I got lots of feedback about the ways people used the kit.  Most bought it with the intention of filling their loved ones mail boxes and getting lots of mail back in return.  Others just wanted to revive the lost art of letter writing.

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Science says that it takes 21 days to create a habit – bad or good.  Some people began using the /30 rubber stamp included in the kit to keep track of the days they wrote in their journal.  Other stamped the inside covers of books they read as part of a book challenge they were doing and some used it to track 30 days of new recipes on recipe cards.  If you decide to do the challenge – follow along and let me know you are writing by posting on Instagram and hashtagging #thesummer30daysofletters.  You might pick up some new pen pals and become a Mail More Luvah!

This is how I will be structuring my 30 day challenge – 10 days of ice cream themed cards, 10 days of postcards, and 10 days of old-fashioned letters.  I put them all in a box, any box will do – try a shoe box.  Put some pens, pencils, postage stamps and anything else you like to make your mail pretty and you are off to the post office!  Each day grab that box and write a note to someone you love.

If you need a few tips to make this challenge easy breezy – click on this link to my blog about the 30 Days of Letters kit

Until the next note, Rhea

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Staying cool this summer…..

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When I started thinking about what the theme July box for Mail More Love would be, I thought – what are my favorite summer memories?  Summer trips to visit my Aunt – my very first pen pal.  My Aunt was the coolest grown up kid in the world, and she continues to be today.  When I think of summer, I think of her driving me and my sister around in her too cool for school car, singing us songs, taking us to puppet shows and sooooo many trips to get ice cream.

Now that I’m all grown up, I still go visit my Aunt in the summer time and when we’re lucky enough to have my Mom with us we always make time for ice cream.  As a fussy kid who would only eat mint chocolate chip ice cream if it was green : ), I marveled at the flavors my Mom, Aunt and Uncle ordered – coffee, jamocha almond fudge, peppermint stick – and they got jimmies!?!

The July box is dedicated to all those summers and my Mom – the greatest lover of ice cream I’ve ever met.  She put herself through college scooping ice cream and she had to eat all of her mistakes!  Pretty good gig, I’d say.  This picture is from our last trip to Richardson’s Ice Cream in Massachusetts – who has the best homemade ice cream and where I used to go look at the cows when I was a kid while I ate my ice cream.   I got a HUGE cone filled with one of those adult flavors : ) – peppermint stick – and i loved every last lick!

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