Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Letter Writing Project

I have not written a post in almost a year. I’ve been struggling to find inspiration. I am not one to just write for the sake of writing. I love to write, but my heart must be in my story. So I decided to start a letter writing project with the hopes of, first and foremost, making people smile, but also to find inspiration.

Last year I read the book “The Letter Writing Project” by Wendy Wolff. The book details how the author found healing in writing a letter to the teenage driver that killed her sister. The book encourages the reader to write letters, to experience emotional freedom in putting your feelings on paper, and also to bring the art of letter writing back to our generation.

As a child I was encouraged to write letters; thank you letters for gifts that I received, letters to pen pals I was assigned for a school project, letters to my family in Chicago or friends who moved out of state. These were the days before email, before texting and cell phones. Long distance phone calls were expensive. The only way we had to communicate with those far away was to write them a letter. It was so exciting to find a return letter in my mailbox. It meant that I could read about how the long distance writer was doing, what was new in their family and, more importantly, to get answers to the questions I asked in my letter!

I tried to encourage my children to always acknowledge gifts with a hand written thank you note. That habit never quite caught on with my son, but my oldest daughter, now 25, writes beautiful notes. I unfortunately have let life take over and have stopped writing letters myself. I no longer send thank you notes or letters to distant family. And why should I? I can now text a note of appreciation, or send an email. And why would I write a letter to let everyone know what I’m up to. I have Facebook for that. Who needs to write a letter?

I’ll tell you who.

I do.

At Christmas, I decided to write one of my aunts a note updating her on our family. One of my Dad’s sisters is a Catholic nun, Sister Petronia (we call her Sister Pete). She celebrated her 95th birthday in January! My mom and her still talk on the phone every few weeks and she always asks my mom about me and family, particularly about Taylor. Who better to reignite my letter writing than good old Sister Pete? 2015 was a really good year for us and I had a lot to tell her. Lauren, my oldest was finishing her Master’s degree, my son Vinny had just gotten a job at my company, Taylor was continuing to do well and we got a new puppy! I ended up with five handwritten pages of life. A good old fashioned letter! It felt so good to put all of that down on paper, to recap our great year. It also made me feel good to imagine the smile on Sr. Pete’s face as she read it.

That was all I needed to spark a fire in me to write more letters. I wanted to continue that good feeling that I had and also (hopefully) make the recipient feel good too. There are many different websites and initiatives out there to encourage people to write letters. Many of them suggest writing a letter a day for 30 days, or a letter a week for a year. Yeah, well, remember that life that I referred to a few paragraphs ago, its still there. My life unfortunately leaves very little extra time in my day. I have a pretty demanding job, a special needs child, and a husband and two other children who need me. My days start around 5 a.m. and end around 11 p.m. If I find a moment to sit down in the evening, I usually end up falling asleep within the first 10 minutes! Committing to writing a letter a day or even a letter a week was bound for failure. So my project is to write a letter a month in 2016. I’ll have about 30 days to complete each letter. I think I can do that! I have chosen 12 people; 6 people I know personally and 6 people that I do not know. My letters will be upbeat, encouraging. They will let the recipient know how wonderful I think they are; how they have impacted my life. Perhaps the recipient will write back; perhaps not. That is really not important to me. What is important is that my letter brightened their day, made them smile. My hope is that maybe my letter would inspire them to write a letter to someone in their life. Maybe to an old friend who they lost touch with. Or to a loved one who they need to forgive or even apologize to. Maybe even to the clerk at the grocery store that just seems to need a lift. There’s also a good chance that my letters will not have any impact on the recipient at all, but I’m sticking to my hope that it will and I do hope that I hear about it.

Who are my letter recipients you ask? That is a list that only I am privy to. But if all goes as I would hope, maybe they will be the inspiration for future posts. My first letter has already been sent and I’m working on letter two. Who knows……one of them may be you!

Happy New Year everyone! May 2016 bring much happiness and blessings…..and maybe a letter or two!



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