observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

Kindness in an Envelope

letter writing © Diane M Schuller

The world can always use a little more kindness. A smile, a thoughtful word, or a simple gesture spreads good cheer.

“A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.” — written by Catherine Field in the New York Times.

Nothing beats a handwritten note or letter. Email and texting are great for quick responses but an old fashioned letter shows someone cares plus has taken the time to think about you and care enough to sit and write a letter.

I love to get mail but the mailbox only holds bills and junk mail so when a letter — a real handwritten letter — shows up in my mailbox, I can barely contain my excitement to open it up and read what’s inside.

pen and envelope .. www.dianeschuller.com

I have been a letter writer all my life and a note writer too — trouble is, I don’t write letters nearly as often as I once did. As a youngster I had pen pals and wrote letters to Aunts and one of my cousins.

I used to write to my mom a lot; in fact after she died and I was packing up her house, I found all the letters from me she had kept in one of her bedroom drawers! I treasure them because she treasured them.

“What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters.  You can’t reread a phone call.”  ~Liz Carpenter

The beauty of a letter is that it shows you care. You took the time to put your thoughts and feelings onto paper and send it to that special someone. It’s not unlike making a gift with your own hands because it truly is a gift. The only difference is that instead of being wrapped up in a box and wrapping paper, your gift is being sent in an envelope.

And, if the thought of a letter as a gift doesn’t quite do it for you, how about this article in New York Times that sets out the science of what else is gained by writing by hand and the thought process of writing a letter, “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades.” But I’m all for the fun aspect.

postcard to Canadian Forces

Are you up for a challenge?

For anyone who wants to tackle a wee challenge … Why not challenge yourself to write three letters from the heart and send them before the weekend? Whether you use fine stationery or regular notebook paper, it does not matter. All that matters is that you actually sit down and take time to write.

Need suggestions for who you can write to?

  • A relative who lives far away: tell that person about your day, what’s been going on in your world, wish them well. Maybe add a favourite memory involving that relative/friend. Don’t forget to pop in a photo or clipping out of a newspaper or magazine. These sorts of things add more interest for the person receiving your letter.
  • A friend who you haven’t been in touch with for a long time: as above.
  • Your child: Share with him/her how proud you are of him/her. Perhaps use some specific examples of praiseworthy choices they made.
  • Write an American Soldier or to a Canadian Soldier overseas (scroll down on the linked page to see how): tell him how proud you are of him; share your day with him.
  • Or maybe there’s someone you are thinking about as you read these possibilities — go for it.
  • Or, perhaps you might want to start small: go get some postcards and mail a brief message to friends / family.

We all like to know others think well of us, whether it’s family or friends. You’d be surprised how much impact a small note or handwritten letter can make to someone. You may even receive a hand written note in return! Now wouldn’t that be exciting?

Send your letters as quickly as possible, while you’re still motivated. It may well become a habit.

You’ll feel so good. Heck, you can even write me.

If I haven’t convinced you, Lakshmi Pratury makes a convincing case in her short TED talk.

“To send a letter is a good way to move somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” — Phyllis Theroux


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Lisa Gordon - January 5, 2016 - 7:37 am

I am so with you all the way here, Diane.
I actually saw the article in the NY Times too.
As of a few years ago here, in the U.S., children are no longer taught cursive/script handwriting. Completely wiped out of the program. Thought of as being not important enough, but I have to ask, what could be more personal than one’s signature??
So very strange to me.
Like you, I love handwritten letters, and I actually write quite a few of them.

I wish you a bright and beautiful New Year, my friend.

Susan Clark - January 5, 2016 - 11:21 am

My young executive, cyber savvy daughter in law continues to exchange handwritten letters with a friend. They met in their early teens at an international exchange programme. The letters have followed them through graduation, university, jobs, marriage and the birth of children. They both say how important this hand written communication is to them.
I shall send a letter off somewhere and see what happens.

steph - January 6, 2016 - 4:33 pm

this truly IS becoming a lost art. I have persuaded my 13 yo granddaughter to be my pen-pal with the promise that as long as SHE writes, I will always respond. She has been soooo loyal to this and it thrills me. She has 4 siblings—all of whom have had the same offer made, and so far, no one has taken me up on it. I occasionally get a picture sent from one of them….they will in turn get a picture back from me. Want MAIL??? Gotta send me some!!!

I also have a bunch of people who are my ‘postcard’ people….they send me pcs when they travel and I return the favor. My mailbox isn’t full of lovely mail, but I do get the occasional nice surprise—and it always makes my day!!!!

Hope you mailbox spills over with happiness!!!

Lionel Daneault - January 8, 2016 - 4:16 pm

A very nice piece, Diane. I’m going to fill my faithful Parker fountain pen and get busy.

Andi - January 10, 2016 - 6:29 am

I am a huge fan of receiving handwritten notes and would like to be better about sending them out. Thank you for this beautiful reminder!

Sherry G. - January 10, 2016 - 6:45 am

This is such a beautifully written post Diane, and so artfully illustrated with your quietly gorgeous images. I was just thinking about a handwritten note I would like to send to someone far away — and you have encouraged me to just DO it and stop thinking about it!

Tina - January 10, 2016 - 2:44 pm

Such a lovely post! I miss handwritten letters, notes, postcards and just cards in general. I am quite saddened the the art of lettering writing seems to be a thing of the past and that todays communication is so cold. There’s nothing better than sending and receiving a hand written letter!