Friday, May 22, 2009

Tee Hee (17)

My daughter does a spot-on imitation of a tiny pageant competitor: the frozen smile, mouth partly open, head turned to the judges as she promenades the aisle.

Yesterday I received a flyer inthe mail about the Regional pageant coming to Portland on June 7th. At the lower right corner there is a picture of a BABY with a CROWN. OMG is all I have to say.

I'm sending it to my daughter for a little chuckle.

Be Well (16)

A friend of ours is walking the Cancer Journey. Happily in 2009 'cancer' is a word, not a sentence. Still, it's not always obvious what to say to someone who is coping with illness.

When we walked the Cancer Journey a few years ago we found the simpler the better:

We are thinking of you.

We send you love and good thoughts.

(image from Payapa Cards--buy them)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Home, Sweet Home (15)

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble there's no place like home

The newspapers are still full of articles about the housing meltdown. Each statistic has thousands of personal stories behind the numbers (poor Detroit and all the people who lost their homes there).

Having a place to call home is at the foundation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. We need the security of a nest.

So, it is a happy occasion when friends and family relocate out of choice. In the last month my delightful brother and sister-in-law have moved into a new place in the city (of Bruckmuhl, Germany). And good friends have found their new home in Washington state.

I get to send 'happy home' cards and congratulate them all!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Correspondance from Obama! (14)

Here's another good thing about writing actual letters: you might get a return letter. Imagine my excitement when I opened my mailbox and saw an elegant, creamy envelope with this return address:

The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Yup. Obama wrote me back!

He thanked me for my kind words and acknowledged the outpouring of goodwill. He also encouraged me to 'reaffirm our enduring spirit and choose our better history. All right then!

I am going to write a letter back and compliment his expertise in this enormous change effort. He must have some extremely good organization development consultants working with him.

I think the signature might not be original. But, I understand. He's a busy man.

Thank You! (13)

I just celebrated another birthday and was gratified to hear from so many dear ones. Of course, it helps that I posted a blog and it's linked to Facebook. ;)

I ask you, 'Why not kick off a celebration for yourself?!"

So this week I am writing a few thank you notes. I am always touched when people take the time to shop and send a gift. Each time I am surprised and delighted.

Thank you!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Birthday (12)

Last week I sent a birthday card to my brother who lives in Germany. He is not quite a year younger than me so for the next three days we are the same age. And a fine age it is.

My siblings and I grew up in Salt Lake City. Our parents came from The Netherlands and fully embraced their new culture. Here we are on Halloween in 1963. I am the eldest, looking pretty serious. And then we stairstep down--four children in five years (!). The chap in the skeleton costume is the Birthday Boy and in this photo you can already see the impishness.

We were so lucky to have had a GREAT childhood. And today I am remembering the good times....from the old days, from more recent years and envisioning our visit this September.

Love you Ray.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Friends from another Era (11)

In the halcyon days of my early thirties I was privileged to be an honorary member of a group of gorgeous and lively women. The liveliest of the group was Bella (not her real name--she has a responsible profile in the community and it's best to let her share the stories as she wishes). On several occasions we traveled together and waaaay too much alcohol was part of some hysterical celebrations. Oh, we had fun.

For reasons she knows, she holds a very special place in my heart. When I remember B., I remember rare times. Times when I was a different Maggie for a few days. Times when I connected with wild women and ran with the wolves. I never did anything bad but it was fun to be on the verge of naughty. More than anything we laughed a LOT.

When I think of B. I also ache for sweet times that will never be again. It hurts but I'm glad for the memories at least.

Today I wrote to B. Thanks Honey.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Familiar Strangers (10)

Home ownership is a funny thing. You invest so much of yourself in creating a space. And then you leave it. How much of your influence remains after the new residents have moved in?

We live in a house built in 1890 and I like to imagine all the memories that were made from events and images here. Each occupant had some influence over the space that has been cumulatively created.

One family, in particular, invested a lot of love into this home and I recently got a letter from them.
I have never met the former owners (we bought from the people they sold to) but I have learned a lot about them.

Today I am writing them a return letter.

Har Har (9)

With kudos and appreciation to Tomato Cards, DCI Studios and Redtree studios I am sharing this card that made me laugh out loud.

I need to buy about 10 more for my friends! Meanwhile, one lucky girlfriend is in for a little chuckle from her mailbox.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Letter of Admiration and Esteem (8)

Have you ever had the experience of seeing someone else's work or read a book...and you absolutely love it? But you wish YOU had made it?

For a long time now I have been inspired by a woman who works in the world of creativity. And, I so wish that I were producing like she is.

Fortunately, I have been able to admit that I couldn't write what she wrote. I will be doing other things. And, meanwhile, I can learn from her. She is so talented and generous with her gifts. As I read what she has written I am touched. I chuckle. I absorb her wisdom.

So today I am writing her a card filled with my admiration and esteem. Thank you,
Jill (Badonsky), for sharing your inspiration with us.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Words of Encouragement (7)

There are times when life is SO HARD. Or SO CONFUSING. And you feel SO BAD. During times like that you just need support.

Sometimes, though, support is difficult to receive. You just want to curl up in a ball and be alone. You just don't have it's too hard to be with others.

But you're still getting your mail.

And there's something touching about a quiet letter or card to let you know that someone else cares about you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Love Letter (6)

My letter for this week is obvious: a Love Letter for Valentine's Day.

I believe that the requirements for a love letter are simple: Sincerity, Specificity and Schmaltz. Write from your heart. Note specific reasons why this person is special to you. And don't hesitate to get sentimental. It is LOVE letter, after all.

Now maybe you're 'not that guy' or girl:

Don't despair. Just like Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriend, Big, in Sex and the City you can take inspiration from others.
Love Letters of Great Men and Women: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, by C H Charles contains excerpts of letter from Beethoven, Mozart and Churchill (!). Of course, not everyone is in a RELATIONSHIP with a sweetheart or spouse so your Love Letter could simply be a letter to someone you love.

Share the Love!

Pen Pals

Did you ever have a pen pal when you were young? I did. My elementary school arranged pen pals for us and I wrote to a girl in England for over two years.

Her letters arrived in those onionskin-light fold-up packets. I LOVED getting her letters and I loved re-reading them. I can't remember what two 4th-graders had to write about but we each managed to fill our letters.

Last night I saw Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and Ann Patchett (Bel Canto) speak as part of the Portland Arts & Lecture Series.

They had met briefly at a book fair and began writing to one another. Their friendship developed through letters. How charming. How Victorian. This lecture allowed them to meet in person for the second time but they already knew one another quite well because of all the letters.

The way we reveal our thoughts in a four-page letter is fundamentally different than the way we communicate in an email or on the phone. Which is not to say I don't like my cell phone (what did we do without them?) or email. But as I listened I did envy Liz and Ann's friendship through letters.

I wonder how I'd find a pen pal today?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Great Service! (5)

Luddite that I am I still prefer the newspaper to getting my news from the internet. For $3.22 a week I get a newspaper on my doorstep every morning. Every day I step downstairs, brew my coffee and walk outside for the Oregonian.

Coffee and the New York Times crossword puzzle--that's a solid way to begin a morning.

Most mornings the paper is sitting on the top step of our back door and I think that's pretty terrific. So I am writing a letter of thanks to the people who deliver our newspaper. I've never seen them but I think they are swell.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Saw This and Thought of You (4)

Thursday morning I was enjoying the newspaper and a cup of coffee just like every morning. The Oregonian featured a story about two friends, 98 and 94 years old. They have been best friends for more than 75 years.

I thought of my best friend whom I have known for over 27 years as I read the article. Janet and I met when we were young mothers because our boys were in child care together. Our sons are grown men now and J. and I are in our fifties. Our bond is stronger than ever because we have such a body of shared experiences. We trash smoked at Key Largo and vented to one another in our thirties. She held me when my sister died and she brought me a pink bed jacket when I had surgery. Her friendship is one of my greatest treasures.

This morning I will send her this article with the words, 'I saw this and thought of you'.

I know we'll still be having a good time when we're in our nineties.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dear President Obama (3)

The letter for this week HAS to be a letter to our new President. Here's the outline for my letter:
  • Congratulations. You won the election fair and square.
  • I pray for your safety.
  • I admire you as a leader. You are dedicated to social issues and you know how to build consensus. Please move some of those tax dollars to taking care of education, solve the health insurance dilemma, rebuild our infrastructure...all the things you highlighted in the campaign.
  • We love our country...just like most people love their country. Please continue to work for mutual respect throughout the world. Be strong but not arrogant.
  • After watching TV on Inauguration Day I am completely smitten with you and your family. I am excited that you and Michelle will be bringing some flair to the White House.
  • Finally, good luck on the smoking cessation.

This man has so much on his shoulders. Let him know that we, too, want good things for our country. Here's the address:
President Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Letter to Myself (2)

I have always loved the beginning of a new year. It's a great time to reflect on the passing year and envision what I want to create. Change is a common theme (lose weight, work differently, improve relationships, etc.) and there is a cynicism around the futility of personal change. Too bad.

The Appreciative Inquiry model of change is useful because it acknowledges the power of the past in a positive way.
This is an early model that includes the CONTINUITY aspect of personal change. Too often we try to change by changing everything....which doesn't work for me. Better to build on what IS working. This week I am writing a letter to myself. This is the format:
  • What did I value about 2008?
  • What would I like to bring about in 2009?
  • What will get my attention for transition?
And because I believe that letter should be mailed if at all possible, I will mail it and then put it in the July section of my planner. In July I will read it to remind myself of what seems important now. Perhaps it will help me focus on my most important goals.

Now, who deserves a letter more than you?

Have a good week.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thank You Notes (1)

If you've celebrated any kind of Winter Holiday it is likely that you received a gift or two. At the very least, someone brought cookies or, dare we hope, fruitcake? [I think fruitcake is YUMMY]
This is an ideal time to flex your writing muscles, so show some class, and write a THANK YOU NOTE.

If you don't know what to write here's a simple template from a helpful site:

Dear xxxx,

Thank you very much for the _________, it really was just what I wanted! Every time I use / wear the _________ I will think of you and your thoughtfulness. I wanted to take the time to write my thanks and I will call you soon, to thank you in person .

Best Wishes or Love
or With Grateful Thanks etc.

We will explore other reasons to write over the next 52 weeks. For now, find that stationary.

Write a note of thanks.

Send it.

Happy New Year!!!

Welcome to 52 Letters

A little while ago I wrote a letter to my niece, Kelly. I was out of town and my computer was packed away so I decided to communicate the old-fashioned way with a hand written letter.

A few weeks later I received this response on my Facebook wall:

Hey Tante Maggie ("Aunt" in Dutch), I got your letter. Wow, I think it has been years since I have received a hand written letter other than a christmas or birthday card. Thanks for thinking of us.

Her note got me wondering. And one morning I woke up with the idea for 52 Letters. Here's the Challenge:

Write one letter each week.
Send it.

That's it.

I'm going to start in January 2009. Meanwhile, I'm pondering ideas for how to how fun with this and involve lots of other letter writers.....