For the Love of a Letter…

Letters are like visits… when friends are apart!           {via Tumblr}

Hi Friends!

I’ve been thinking about one of my very favorite pastimes today!  As far back as I can remember {and that’s a long time}, I have always loved writing letters. It just fills my heart with happiness to pick out pretty stationery, find a lovely postage stamp, a nice pen, and let the words just flow… straight from my heart! Often I will tuck in a photo or two that hold special memories. Letter writing is one of the joys that has made such a difference in my life!

It has always been my style…

On our family vacations throughout my childhood, I would bravely strike up a conversation with someone my age at the campground or by the swimming pool. Before parting ways, I would often ask them to be pen pals so that we could continue our friendship all summer long. Throughout grade school and high school, I loved writing letters to my French pen pal. Oh, the excitement to find her letters in our mailbox!

It has expanded my world in wonderful ways…

Some of the friendships that I treasure most in life began by writing letters. After a brief meeting in person, my German friends and I watched our friendship blossom through letter writing. We learned patience, as we waited weeks for our letters to cross the ocean and back, with a long-awaited reply.  The anticipation made it ever so exciting!

It keeps hearts close across the miles…

Writing to friends and family in other states always makes the distance between us seem shorter. It is always so heartwarming to discover a Kindred Spirit who also loves to write letters! Oftentimes, our friendships have grown even deeper, through letter writing, after a friend has moved away, Sharing our hearts in handwritten letters, even when friends live nearby, has helped our friendships grow in the most wonderful ways.  Making time to write a real letter, in this age of electronic communication, is a true expression of affection, friendship, and love! The gift of rereading a letter several times multiplies the joy of receiving it.

It is filled with sentimental creativity…

Pretty paper always makes my heart soar! Just choosing the perfect piece of  stationery is part of the charm of the handwritten letter. Once the paper is filled with carefully worded thoughts, it becomes a heartwarming, little gift for a special someone. I also adore sending notes in handmade cards.  Spending time thinking about the recipient while I create their card always feels like a little visit. Letters are like visits… when friends are apart!

There is love in the tiniest details…

At the post office, I always ask to see all of the stamps, just to find the perfect one for the recipient… one they might enjoy. In my Calligraphy days, I would dip my nib into handmade ink colors as I addressed each envelope, to complement the postage stamps. It’s the little things that make my heart happy!

Writing a letter feels so good…

There is even a scientific reason why making time to write a letter or note, even on the busiest of days, makes me feel so happy. This simple act of connecting and bonding with a friend, without any expectation in return, stimulates Oxytocin (the ‘feel good’ hormone) levels in the bloodstream. When our Oxytocin levels rise, it becomes easier to deal with stress. Writing letters is such a healthy, happy pastime!

Letters become real treasures…

Letters document the small moments of our everyday lives in a real, lasting way.  My mom still treasures the weekly letters that my dad sent her while serving in Korea. They are tied with a ribbon, joining two young hearts so long ago. The stories these letters hold are so important to our family. They are a cherished part of our history.

Letter Writing journals held the daily letters that my young students and I exchanged long ago. They each enjoyed writing me a letter in class, while I enjoyed answering their letters at home, while sitting on the porch swing. They shared the important things ~ their families, their pets, their dreams, and their questions. We grew so close, through our daily letters. Over the years, so many students have let me know that they saved their teddy bear Letter Writing journals because they hold the stories of an entire year of their lives! Their letters document an important part of their childhood.

During a recent summer, a young neighbor and I also shared a Letter Writing journal. I would deliver my letter to his mailbox early each morning and he would carefully tuck the journal holding his reply behind the checkerboard on our front porch. (He wasn’t quite tall enough to reach our mailbox!) We both looked forward to our daily letters! Over the summer, this struggling writer discovered that writing is communicating and can be really exciting! We will always be important friends because of the letters we wrote that summer.

Over the years, as my young students have grown up, many still keep in touch. I will always cherish their letters, filled with their everyday stories, important questions, hopes, and dreams. They often write from college, sharing their lives as they grow up. Oh, how these letters touch my heart!

It’s so nice to brighten someone’s day…

During these uncertain times, it is so lovely to send words that someone special can hold onto for years to come. Although weeks or months (or even years) have passed, perhaps there is someone special who would love hearing from you! When they find your letter in the mail, everything just picks up right where you left off. You could write a long, newsy letter to catch up on one another’s lives, send a handmade card with a little note, or write a special thank you letter for a kindness. It’s never too late. Whenever one person writes a letter ~ it makes two hearts happy!

It’s easy to spread sunshine to friends you’ve never met…

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."  ~ Winnie the Pooh

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
~ Winnie the Pooh

There are many wonderful organizations who welcome your handwritten notes. It’s such a small act of kindness that makes a big difference in the world. Postcrossing is a fascinating way to connect with people from all parts of the world by sending postcards. Writing ‘Any Hero’ letters is an important part of the amazing organization, Operation Write Home.  Letters from American citizens are delivered to American military personnel deployed across the globe. It’s our opportunity to thank them for their service and sacrifice. What a small act of kindness for those who give so much for all of us! Just writing letters, notes, or postcards can make a real difference in the life of someone you might never meet!

It’s the perfect time to write…

‘National Send a Handwritten Letter Day’ will be celebrated on the 17th day of every month in 2015. If everyone writes just one letter, it will support the goals of preserving and honoring the art of the handwritten letter, pumping millions of letters into our struggling postal system, and bringing millions of smiles into the hearts of people from coast-to-coast.

The ‘Happy Mail’ movement encourages everyone to send a card, note, or letter, too. Their goals are to make someone’s day, connect people (and hearts) together, and to save a mail carrier’s job! Just the simple act of writing a letter makes a big difference to everyone who touches the letter ~ you, the person sorting the mail, the person delivering the mail, and the recipient. So much happiness flows from one little letter!

It has been such fun to write Valentine notes and letters this week. ♡

It has been such fun to write Valentine notes and letters this week. ♡

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once said “Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.” Handwritten letters hold our stories and document our lives in the loveliest of ways. They are best savored with a cup of tea!

“Or don’t you like to write letters?  I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something,” wrote Ernest Hemingway.  That’s so true for me! Writing a letter always feels like playing, rather than working!

Just LOVE to write letters! I'm off to brew a cup of tea...

I will always be a letter writer at heart!

I’m looking forward to writing a long letter to a faraway friend this weekend. Emails are great… but a letter to hold, reread, and save is an extra-special gift of love and friendship! Writing letters is just what I do, and have always done. Sometimes the good, old-fashioned traditions are the best ways!

Hope you will make someone’s mailbox happy… and put a smile in their heart today! ♡

Happy writing!

♡Dawn

P.S.  Are you a letter writer?  Please share your stories, too!  Who would just LOVE to receive a letter from you this week?

{All stamp images ~ USPS}

Red, White & Blue ~ Traditions Old & New

Red, white & blue is everywhere!

Red, white & blue are popping up everywhere!

Hi Friends,

Everywhere you look, there are displays of red, white & blue! From sea to shining sea, we are getting ready for Memorial Day weekend. In the midst of celebrations of warm, summer-like days, the end of another school year, cookouts, and baseball games, I hope you can find a peaceful, quiet moment to reflect on the importance of Memorial Day and the great sacrifices made for our freedom.

 

Last summer, while antiquing our way through the little towns nestled along the Illinois River, we unexpectedly came upon The Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial, in Marseilles, Illinois. This memorial is the first of its kind, honoring our fallen by name, while the conflict is still going on.  Since 1979, every year right after Memorial Day, the names of servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives over the past year are etched into the granite of the Wall. We took a long time to walk along the wall, very quietly and with great sadness.

Remembering those who gave their lives in the Middle East.

Remembering those who gave their lives in the Middle East.

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Reflecting… and remembering.

Honoring a local hero, Christopher Alcozer.

Honoring a local hero, Christopher Alcozer.

… and so many other brave men and women who made the the ultimate sacrifice.

… and so many other brave men and women who made the the ultimate sacrifice.

 

We all share the hope that no more names will be etched on The Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial in the years to come…

 

 

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Red, White & Blue ~ Traditions Old & New

Old Memorial Day traditions are celebrated all across America.  Our town is looking forward to our 96th annual Memorial Day parade, followed by a special ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial in the park. Young and old will gather for the red, white, & blue celebration.

My favorite author and artist, Susan Branch, shared her very special Memorial Day traditions on Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts. You will love this wonderful, old, island tradition!  Such a simple act of Remembrance that tugs on our heartstrings, in Susan’s own words…

Memorial-Day-tradition

 

 

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It’s always nice to add some new traditions to our holiday celebrations, as well. Wouldn’t this be a great time to let our servicemen and women, who are currently deployed, know how much we appreciate their service? It’s such an easy thing to do ~ and it feels really good, too! Writing Any Hero Mail for Operation Write Home (OWH) would be the perfect new tradition…

Who can write Any Hero mail?  You might like to use up some cards or note paper, by writing letters on your own. Family gatherings, community festivals, summer art camp, and classroom or school-wide projects are an easy way to introduce a new tradition to larger groups. The Operation Write Home website has tips for writing letters, coloring pages for children’s letters, and the mailing address for your cards and letters.

How does it work?  Just find a piece of writing paper, a card, or a postcard, and write a short Any Hero letter! Tell them about the town where you live, your pets, a funny story,… just let them know that you are thinking of them and are grateful for their service for our country.

What happens with the cards and letters you write?  Packets of Any Hero Mail are included in each box of handmade cards created by OWH volunteers. The heroes use our handmade cards to write letters home to their family and friends. Your Any Hero Mail will be placed at the top of each box of OWH cards and given to deployed heroes who do not receive mail. (Can you believe that many of our service members never receive mail while they are deployed?) You will make their day and let them know that the hard work they are doing is appreciated. Our troops are still out there, doing their jobs every day. They should know that we are thinking of them!

 

Over the years, our brave family heroes have served our country: my dad (Korea), my father-in-law (WWII), my uncle (VietNam), and our cousin (Iraq, Afghanistan). We have been so fortunate that all of  the veterans in our family have come home safely. Yet memories of family stories of loved ones serving in harm’s way, old  black and white war photos, and packets of love letters tied with ribbons have left a profound mark on my heart.

As I planned for my retirement, my thoughts turned to finding new ways to “make a difference.”  So I searched for small ways to help those who sacrifice so much every single day ~ our military families.  Over the past year, as a volunteer with the Semper Fi Family Platoon, I have met amazing mothers of young Marines. Their sons and daughters left soon after high school graduation for training. Many are now deployed and are proudly serving our country.  As the moms talk, I learn more and more about the ways  the entire family sacrifices when a loved one is serving in the military. Our group of card makers has been making cards for hospitalized Marines to let them know they are not forgotten.

I am also slowly filling a box with special handmade cards for Operation Write Home.  These cards are blank inside, so that our heroes can use them to keep in touch with their families. OWH cards end up in family scrapbooks, on mantels, and tucked under the pillows of children whose parents are deployed. It takes me a long time to make the best cards possible…  and they deserve our best! Such small things I do, for those who do so much…

Thanks for spending a little time thinking about some old and new holiday traditions today. Hope you’ll stop by again in a day or so!  Our Friendship Garden is just about to burst into bloom…

Happy Memorial Day!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  How will you celebrate Memorial Day weekend?