So, I’m still a bit skeptical that my post office box is actually working. Theoretically, it should be, so if you send a letter just let me know so I can expect it and make sure things are functioning properly.
I’m also in the middle of a move (very excited!), so life is currently in haphazard piles and cardboard boxes of variable sizes. One of these boxes has all of your letters in it, along with my letter writing supplies (I got a little eager to move into the new place). So, I really appreciate everyone’s patience with the slowness of the project right now. In the interim, however, I’d still like to share some little tidbits of letter love. Here’s the first one.
Back in late June, I received a request for a lovely note from Sharmaine in Virginia, and her request came with a rather lovely little story. I asked her if I could share it with all of you, and she happily agreed. Here is what she wrote:
My Dearest, Lovely Handwritten Notes,Already God is ushering blessings my way because I found so many wonderful “letter writing” companions tonight as a result of a google alert I set up on Friday!I found your blog by way of 365Letters (or days of letters), along with many others. I set up the alert to do more research on letter writers, letter writing because I’m three years late on embarking upon my own project ~ 300 Letters.In 2009, my life seemed to be turning upside down because of the economy and because I was finding the courage to leave my comfort zone and follow my heart to write and do women’s ministry. Money all but dried up and it seemed for a while that my prayers for help went unanswered. I prayed for a miracle and what I found was 100 stamps! Somehow I felt that was a part of the answer to my prayer. Like you, I love to write and to write letters. (I used to send an inspirational letter to my real estate clients every month for the past 10 years).So I came upon the idea that I would write 100 letters to see if I could change my life. But along the way, I got an email asking me to send a Christmas card to Veterans in the VA Hospital. That idea mushroomed from one card, to a box of cards, to finding out how many veterans were at the VA Hospital in DC. I ended up getting 250 cards and wrote a personal message in each one of them. I used the 100 stamps for them and counted it as a good deed.However, what I received was one of those “informational emails” where the information is incorrect. I later found out that any cards sent directly to the VA Hospital would be returned. They were to have been sent to a volunteer agency for dissemination instead. All of them came back in my mailbox and I was so disheartened. I’d poured my whole heart into it, but somehow felt that the good intention would not go unrewarded.Soon after that (a couple of months later), I found yet another 100 stamps. These were stamps that were randomly stored in boxes from my real estate office that I moved home. Once again I got the idea that I would write 100 letters as an experiment to see if I could change my life. I ended up using them to send out a round of inspirational letters to my clients. So, the project never got underway.Unbelieveably, I found yet another 100 stamps and knew it was a clear sign that I should write the letters, do the experiment, and see what happens. So three years have passed and finally in 2012, I am undertaking the project called 300 letters because I found 300 stamps. I’ve written 48 letters so far. There are another 15 or so that I wrote while my life was transitioning so I’ll count them in as well. But I’m excited about “sending” my heart, my thoughts, my words, my thanks, my requests, and my questions out into the world to see what comes back.Just wanted to share that we are letter writing companions and I’m so happy that you crossed my path. Last year, a woman who makes handmade cards also crossed my path and sends me beautiful cards throughout the year. It’s love in the mailbox! I’m joining the letter writer’s alliance also. And for over a year, I’ve been sending inspirational letters to the troops in Afghanistan. It’s a way to use my words to lift, encourage, and give thanks ~ a way to put them into the world where they are needed and will be appreciated.
I don’t know about you, but reading Sharmaine’s story was a lot of fun for me. I’m always moved by the simple act of seeing someone being passionate about something. It really doesn’t matter what you are passionate about; it is just about being passionate about something. It is truly beautiful to see someone with the interest, courage, and hope that it takes to make your passions into something malleable.
Sharmaine, thank you for the reminder to persevere and to send more love out into the world. Your dreams do not go without appreciation, for they make the world a better place to be.
Sharmaine also asked me if I could share her address with all of you, as she would love to receive letters from more tender-hearted, letter-writing enthusiasts like herself. Here it is:
Sharmaine L. Hobbs (or Writing Angel)P. O. Box 4566Midlothian, VA 23112United States of America
Rough Outlines is my more traditional blog where I hash out the bundles of thoughts that pass through my mind daily. In this most recent post, I get into a little more detail about why and how I started Lovely Handwritten Notes and what the greater meaning of letter writing is to me. I also display a few more of the postcards I picked up in an antique store in West Virginia!
It’s Wednesday! You know what that means — time for a new Question of the Week! Thank you for your continued thoughtful responses. I’ll be sharing more of the ones I have received so far as the week goes on.
If you’re new to the project and asking yourself, “What is Question of the Week, and how do I get involved?” You can visit my past post that introduced the activity by clicking here.
This week’s question is: If you could receive a handwritten letter from anyone throughout history, who would it be? Why, and what do you think they would tell you? What would their letter be like?
Please send your lovely handwritten response to:
Lovely Handwritten Notes
P.O. Box 2674
Washington, D.C. 20013
United States of America
I can’t wait to hear from all of you!
As written on the wall in one of the exhibits at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.
Systems at Work
This is a great video put out by the United States Postal Service. It shows just how amazing it really is that you can simply drop a letter in a mailbox and it will end up wherever in the world you’d like it to go in a matter of days. I am in a state of wonderment.
An exhibit of “Systems at Work” is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.
Also, please note that the post office had a little confusion over what name to expect on my mail. It’s all resolved now, and nothing should get sent back, but if for some reason your letter gets returned, do please let me know! I appreciate the U.S. Postal Service giving me a call to check it out. As you can tell from the video above, they are a busy bunch!
I was so delighted this morning when I logged on and saw that Lidia, a follower of the project, had blogged about receiving a lovely handwritten note I recently mailed her way. She wrote about wanting to write more letters and why it’s important. And — it’s all in Spanish! There was something about seeing my project crossing the barriers of language to spread more cheer to more places that really just tickled my heart and left me smiling. Letters connect people.
Lidia lives in Spain, and as you can tell from her blog, is a creative and crafty soul of a girl. Thanks for sharing, Lidia!
¡¡YUJU!! ¡¡Me ha llegado una postal!! La maravillosa Korrin de Lovely Handwritten Notes me ha enviado una no menos Lovely postal desde Washington ¡y me ha hecho muy feliz!
Llevo unas semanas bastante ocupada haciendo e intentando hacermillones de cosas. La actual precaria situación de no tener internet en casa está haciendo que me sea más difícil poder actualizar el blog y si a eso le sumamos que mi cámara de fotos ha muerto… entenderéis la calidad de mis fotografías…
Entre todas esas cosas (creativas) que estoy intentando llevar a cabo está la de recuperar la buena costumbre de escribir cartas.
Os lo creáis o no hubo un tiempo en que, la menda, pensaba que había un montón de gente maravillosa e interesante repartida por el mundo y decubrí que así era gracias a lo que en mi infancia era el carteo y en mi tardía adolescencia el penpaling. Un día mi madre llegó a casa con una revista infantil y unas cuantas postales y me sugirió escribir una de esas postales a un par de direcciones de la revista: niñas y niños a los que, como a mí, les gustaba Érase Una Vez el Cuerpo Humano o que, a diferencia de yo, decían pertenecer al Club Barbie O_O (¡¡¡###///??). Tenía seis años, un bolígrafo, unas postales de personajes infantiles y el beneplácito de mi madre para garabatear lo que me diese la gana ¡y lo hice! Fue fantástico comprar sellos y dejar caer esos trozos de cartón en el buzón amarillo… pero nunca recibí respuesta. Afortunadamente por aquel entonces tenía 6 años, es decir, toda la vida por delante para seguir intentándolo ¬¬ Dado que ese intento fracasó y que poco después mi madre me compró un bonito juego de cartas de Tarta de Fresa procedí a enviar cartas a diestro y siniestro: mi madre, mis compañeros de clase, mis profesora, mi hermana y mis hermanos… ¿El resultado? No fue mucho mejor… nadie me envió una carta de vuelta, sólo me apechugaban y me besaban…
Cuando tenía nueve años ya había conseguido amiguitas en media España. Envíaba cartas y postales todas las semanas y el primer año de instituto ya escribía a gente del extranjero… en inglés… bueno, o eso creía yo… Llegué a tener tantos “penpals” que tenía listas interminables con cumpleaños, material que había enviado a cada cual (para no repetir) y me agobiaba muchísimo el día que no tenía un ratito para escribir. Cartas larguísimas, paquetes repletos de postales, fotografías, regalos que circulaban por el mundo seguros de que, en algún rinconcito, había una persona esperando ansiosísima por recibirlos, que, como yo, escudriñaba al cartero cuando lo veía con el carro pasando por su calle intentando reconocer una caligrafía en alguno de los sobres.
Ayyy ¡cuántos recuerdos de papel! ¿Saben ustedes que mi primera declaración de amor fue una carta? Porque, como bien decía un viejo amigo, la responsabilidad de quien escribe una carta es tremenda si pensamos que, en ellas, se han escondido desde secretos romances a imponentes declaraciones de guerra… ´
Y así hasta el segundo ciclo de universidad, cuando el mundo empieza a girar muy rápido y los días se van volando y la vorágine te arrastra y ya no encuentras tiempo para nada y piensas en aquellos tiempos en los que por un ratito viajabas lejos, muy lejos, y las cartas no se perdían en direcciones caducadas y la gente era niña y siempre tenía tiempo, tiempo que ahora dedica a sus niños… Y vas perdiendo la rutina, y ya no queda nada más que suspirar cuando el cartero pasa…
Pero ¿sabéis qué? ¡Que esto se ha terminado! El País de Nunca Jamás reclama a sus antiguas súbditas. Grita en tu oído que el tiempo pasa demasiado rápido si tú caminas demasiado deprisa y que la única forma de evitarlo es volver a su reino. Afortunadamente hay cosas que aún no han cambiado tanto y me ha alegrado ver que a la vertiginosa velocidad de la red hay gente que le pone freno. Si piensas en recuperar el antiguo arte de escribir cartas, no te encontrarás sola, de primeras, me tienes a mí y los proyectos de intercambio son innumerables. Es más ¡con este post queda inaugurada la entrada semanal dedicada a las cartas, snail mail, post crossing, mail art o como quieras llamarlo!
Y para empezar os dejo algunos enlaces:
Lovely Handwritten Notes es un proyecto que llega desde Washington que, si no sabes cómo/qué comenzar a escribir, lanza una pregunta semanal para que respondas y envíes a su buzón. Korrin, espíritu fundador, es una chica maravillosa a la que si envías tu dirección te mandará una postal tan lovely como su propio proyecto (¡a mí me hizo muy feliz recibirla!).
En Pens and Envelopes además de encontrar posibles personas a las que escribir, podrás encontrar muchas ideas originales para escribir tus propias cartas e incluso poner un anuncio si quieres que alguien te escriba.
Si te apetece recibir postales de todo el mundo en tu buzón pero no quieres comprometerte a una correspondencia regular o, si la gente de Pens and Envelopes te parece muy joven, prueba suerte en Postcrossing (con traducción al castellano) donde te darán direcciones al azar o podrás buscar personas con las que más afinidad creas tener. Básicamente se intercambian postales así que no tendrás que sentirte en la obligación de escribir grandes textos ^_^
Y por supuesto ¿quieres que te escriba yo? ¡Pues sólo tienes que mandarme un mail pidiéndolo!
Y dicho todo esto ¿Te animas a recuperar el noble arte de escribir cartas?
As a quick refresher, every Wednesday, I will be posting a Question of the Week. You can respond to this question with as few or as many words as you’d like. You can do it in a card, on lined paper, on a postcard, or any other mailable item. There are no rules beyond simply being able to put your response into the mailbox! These questions aim to help you get inspired to start writing, and are also a way to facilitate deeper human connection through the art of handwritten letters. Unless you ask me not to, I’d love to share your response with the project’s followers, but I’ll never share your address or full name.
This week’s Question of the Week is: Have you ever received a letter from another country? Where, and from whom? Do you remember what it looked like? Had you yourself ever traveled there before, or did the letter make you want to? If you haven’t received one, have you ever sent one to someone while visiting another country?
Please send your lovely handwritten response to:
Lovely Handwritten Notes
P.O. Box 2674
Washington, D.C. 20013
United States of America
This little P.O. Box eagerly awaits your stories, memories, and thoughts!
That moment where you must release your attachment, it is out of your hands.
I took a trip a few weeks back to the National Postal Museum to help immerse myself in the history of the post office in preparation for this project. I’m sure I’ll talk more about the museum in a future post, but for now, I’d like to focus on one of the more unexpected exhibits. His name is Owney.
During his lifetime, a scruffy mutt named Owney was the nation’s most famous canine. From 1888 until his death in 1897, Owney rode with Railway Mail Service clerks and mailbags all across the nation.
Owney’s story begins in 1888 with his attachment to the mail clerks and mailbags at the Albany, New York post office. His owner was likely a postal clerk who let the dog walk him to work. Owney was attracted to the texture or scent of the mailbags and when his master moved away, Owney stayed with his new mail clerk friends. He soon began to follow mailbags. At first, he followed them onto mail wagons and then onto mail trains, beginning an almost decade-long story of travels far and wide. Owney’s journeys took him across the United States, into Canada, and possibly Mexico. On August 19, 1895, as part of a publicity stunt for the town of Tacoma, Washington, Owney left that city on a mail steamer and spent the next few months traveling around the world. He docked back in at New York City harbor in late December, returning by train to Tacoma on December 29, 1895.
Among the first to visit the dog upon his arrival in town was often the local reporter, eager to learn where the dog had been, and share his travels with readers. This far-traveled canine would have achieved fame for his travels alone, but he also gathered attention for his fashion sense. Postal workers were the first to attach tokens to the dog’s collar, but soon just about anyone and everyone who had the opportunity to give Owney a little souvenir of his trip did so. Before long, the poor dog was carrying so many tags on his collar that he could barely keep his head upright. His mail clerk friends began shipping excess tags back to the Albany post office, where the postmaster soon put them on public display. Postmaster General John Wanamaker had a special harness built for Owney to wear, so his tags could be spread out evenly all over his body. A writer for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that “Nearly every place he stopped Owney received an additional tag, until now he wears a big bunch. When he jogs along, they jingle like the bells on a junk wagon.”
[Upon Owney’s death,] mail clerks raised funds to have Owney preserved, and he was given to the Post Office Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1911, the department transferred Owney to the Smithsonian Institution, where he has remained ever since. Owney can be seen on display in the National Postal Museum’s atrium, wearing his harness and surrounded by several of his tags.
I love how Owney’s adventures became such an exciting topic for communities to read about. He was the fleshly representation of the incredible ability of mail to travel so far and wide. And, thanks to this postcard I picked up, he’s still traveling along with those bags of letters!