Monday, April 24, 2017

Letter Writing Month Wraps Up This Week

As the United States' National Letter Writing Month comes to a close this week, National Stationery Week is just getting started in the UK.

If you're looking for some inspiration in your letter writing, here are a couple of articles that will provide all the encouragement you need:

* Joy Bailey, a 27-year-old from Grapevine, Texas, is featured in The Dallas Morning News. She has a website, SpreadJoy24-7.com, about the letters she shares with the world.

*  In Camarillo, California, Julie Merrick has long known the power of writing letters. She turned that knowledge into a TEDx talk, "The Gift That Can Last Forever." You can read more about Julie in an article in the Ventura County Star and on her blog, A Letter A Week.

Now, go write some letters!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day is April 22

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day, which began in 1970 as a national day to focus on the environment. The U.S. Postal Service is celebrating Earth Day this year by continuing and encouraging others to practice good recycling. The USPS recycling program is known as USPS Blue Earth; you can read more on the Blue Earth website.

Letter writers (and receivers) around the world can join in by recycling as much of what comes in the mail as we can. If your community has a recycling program, use it instead of the trash can to dispose of unwanted paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. Don't forget to reuse as much as possible, too. Check to see if the paper, envelopes, boxes, packaging material and more can be reused, either in their original form or altered in mail art projects.

One way to support the USPS and to add a bit of "green" to your mail: Purchase some of the upcoming "Green Succulent" stamps. They are for First Class International letters, at a value of $1.15 (for a 1-ounce letter). The round stamp features a photo of the echeveria plant. They aren't available yet, but you can pre-order the stamps online.

Happy Earth Day and Happy Letterwriting!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

He'll mail it for you

Ryan Epp, a former computer science student at Temple University, has created a new service -- mailing letters to Congress. According to The Temple News, the student newspaper, Epp came up with the idea when he wrote a letter to a senator but didn't have a stamp. He searched for a service that would mail the letter for him, and when he couldn't find such a business, he started one -- Snail Mail Congress.

Anyone wanting to write a letter to a U.S. senator or representative can write their letter on the website, pay $1.28, and Epp will format and print the letter. Then, he'll put it in an envelope, address it, add postage and mail it. The service even offers a tracking service.

On his website, Epp says that the fee covers only the exact cost of the paper, envelope, postage, etc.

If you'd like some tips on How to Write Your Congressman/Woman, check out my February blog post on that topic.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Patriot Letters

Boston was a busy city Monday, with both the annual marathon and the Patriot's Day Parade taking place yesterday. The marathon may have lasted all afternoon for some runners, but the parade was over in less than an hour. Immediately following the parade was a reenactment of Paul Revere's April 18, 1775, ride to warn people of the approaching British troops.

More information about Paul Revere and that famous ride are available at the Paul Revere House in Boston, which is also hosting a letter-related event. If you're in Boston today and tomorrow -- April 18 and 19 -- you might want to drop by the museum, located at 19 N. Square in Boston, and take a look at the collection "Your Own, Paul Revere" which features some of the letters written by the Revere family and their friends.

Those attending will also get a chance to see examples of vintage postcards sent by tourists in the 19th and 20th centuries. According to the Paul Revere House website, some postcards in the collection feature the Revere House, others showcase the surrounding North End neighborhood. Everyone will also have a chance to practice their quill pen writing skills and make a postcard to send from the Revere House.

From the Northeast Document Conservation Center
Another interesting Paul Revere-related letter story is about the "Lost" Paul Revere letter, dated May 2, 1775 -- almost 242 years ago. According to an article by Julie Martin on the Northeast Document Conservation Center website, the letter was taken to the Paul Revere House, where its authenticity was immediately recognized. The museum worked with the family that owned the letter to allow the NEDCC to do some restoration work on the old and damaged letter. The letter was treated and then digitized so that further study could be done without injuring the original document.

According to the site, later, the museum was able to acquire the letter for its collection.

What a letter writing history!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Weekend Letterwriting Topics

Vintage card from The Graphics Fairy
This weekend, we’re a month into Spring in the northern hemisphere, and here in Texas, the

As you’re writing letters this weekend, here are a few topics you can write about:

* The weather. What's happening in your world today? Is it sunny or rainy? Is there still some snow on the ground? Is this typical?

* Spring holiday(s) you celebrate. What do you celebrate? How?

* Sports. Here in the U.S. baseball and softball are going strong right now. Do you play sports? What's your favorite sport? Your favorite team?

* As we move from winter to spring and into summer, our food choices often change. What are your favorite spring foods? Include a recipe in your letter!

Happy letter writing!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Letters of Artists

If you're going to be in South Florida next week, you will have the opportunity to attend the opening of "Pen to Paper," an exhibit of letters written by various artists, as well as attend an accompanying lecture at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Robert Motherwell (from the Smithsonian)
The letters are a selection from the Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Art. It includes handwritten letters from Berenice Abbott, Mary Cassatt, Frederic Edwin Church, Howard Finster, Harriet Hosmer, Ray Johnson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Motherwell, Maxfield Parrish, Edward Weston, and many others.

According to the website www.SouthFlorida.com, the exhibit includes 38 letters written by 32 American icons and "marks the start of a national Smithsonian tour of the letters, which span the early 1800s through the 1980s and feature love letters, notes and elaborately illustrated missives."

"Pen to Paper" opens at the Norton on Tuesday, April 18. On Thursday, April 20, Liza Kirwin, Deputy Director, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, will introduce a range of artists’ writings in a lecture "Archives of American Art from A-Z." 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Recycling and Writing Letters!

 
I love stationery. Cute, quirky, simple, elegant...it doesn't really matter. I just almost can't resist it.

But, I know that stationery -- especially fancy stationery -- isn't necessary for letter writing. Believe me, a letter written on plain notebook paper will be just as enthusiastically received as one written on expensive paper.

Even if you don't have access to notebook paper, there is paper all around that can be recycled into writing paper, envelopes, cards, etc. I'm always saving different types of paper to reuse, such as the comics from the Sunday newspaper, magazine pages, pages from damaged books, etc.

But, if you're really into to recycling or really need paper, there are even more sources of paper readily available...food packaging, junk mail, computer printouts that are no longer needed, old school papers, etc. Sometimes, it takes a little creativity to use paper that has already been used. Addresses can be difficult to see if the paper has words or pictures on it, so you might need to use labels. Other options are to write the address on a small piece of paper and tape it to the envelope or to use some type of correction fluid or tape to make a spot on the envelope to write on. With such techniques, you might need to place clear tape over the address to make sure it doesn't smudge, scrape or fall off.

Limner over at Oh, Write Me has been blogging about some great mailings she's making from recycled Whole Foods Market paper bags. Click on over there. You'll be amazed by her talent!

Earth Day is coming up later this month (April 22), and these ideas are great ways of combining Earth-friendly ways with letter writing! Do you have any other ideas? Share them with us!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

American Poet, Deaf Education Pioneer Honored with Stamp

This morning, Robert Panara (1920-2014) became the 16th inductee into the U.S. Postal Service’s Distinguished American stamp series on a Forever stamp. The ceremony is going on as I write this.

Panara, a native New Yorker, lost his hearing after contracting spinal meningitis as a child. He became a renowned scholar in the field of deaf studies, as well as a poet. He taught at Gallaudet College (now known as Gallaudet University) and the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he helped found the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID).

“In creating this stamp, our goal was to communicate Robert Panara’s love and enthusiasm for literature, poetry and theatrical pieces as he used American Sign Language to make each topic more dramatic and enlightening," said U.S. Postal Service Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President David Williams. "Poetry and drama came to life through his unique style of expression, Robert was famous for his ability to establish an immediate rapport with his students, through fluid, eloquent sign language which many described as ‘sculptures in the air’.” 


He wrote poetry and in 1997 his book of poetry, "On His Deafness and Other Melodies Unheard" was published. Panara also translated several plays into sign language and was one of the founders of the Waterford, Connecticut-based National Theatre of the Deaf, which provided deaf actors with a venue for thriving in the performing arts. At NTID, he founded the Drama Club, and today's stamp dedication took place there at a theater named for Panara.

The Robert Panara stamp is a Forever 2-ounce stamp, which means that it can be used to mail a letter that weighs 2 ounces, which has a current price of 70 cents. You can also order framed artwork, ceremony program, digital color postmark and other philatelic products featuring the Panara stamp.

So, in this month that is known as both National Card and Letter Writing Month and National Poetry Month, we can send letters bearing stamps honoring American poet Robert Panara.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Twitter reveals another letter writing project

Lately, I have been posting more on the 365 Letters Facebook page and Twitter account (search @365Letters on Facebook and Twitter) to try and encourage more people to write letters and to provide news, information and tips to those who are already corresponding regularly. The new interactions are introducing me to even more letter writers around the world.

This morning, I came across a mention of Jodi Ann Bickley and her project, One Million Lovely Letters. Jodi lives in Birmingham, England, and has an interesting story to tell. She's done a TEDx talk and has an exhibit opening in Birmingham today.

It sounds like a great project!

For more information, visit Jodi's website or Twitter page.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Letters of the Masters

We don't really watch a lot of sports at my house. But, we usually do tune in to the big events, like the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Masters Tournament, which is taking place right now and scheduled to finish up Sunday, April 9.

So, what fun it was to discover a story about all of the letters Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters Tournament champion, received after he earned the green jacket. According to the story in the Augusta Chronicle, Willett received letters from fellow Masters champions Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Arnold Palmer, who died just a few months later.

And, the letters aren't just to the winners. The Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters Tournament, has many letters sent by golfers who have played there through the years. 

Hopefully the tradition of letter writing will continue. The article quotes professional golfer Rory McIlroy as saying he plans to write congratulatory letters to the winners -- once he retires and is no longer competing against them.

For the full story, go to the Augusta Chronicle

Whether or not you're watching the Masters Tournament this weekend, write a letter of congratulations to someone you know. Let them know you're proud of them!

Happy letterwriting!
 

Friday, April 7, 2017

April 26 is World Stationery Day!

Letter writers in the United States have been celebrating National Letter Writing Month (also known as National Card and Letter Writing Month) this month, but a love of analog correspondence and all the things that go with it -- stationery, cards, pens, pencils, stamps, etc. -- does not end on the shores of America. The London Stationery Show, scheduled for April 25-26, 2017, organizes National (UK) Stationery Week (April 24-30) and World Stationery Day (April 26).

According to the World Stationery Day website, the event celebrates the written word, as well as stationery. Its aim is to get people all over the world talking and writing about stationery and why writing by hand is important. And to send more letters and cards, not just text or email.

Using the hashtags #writingmatters and #keepwriting, organizers encourage everyone to share the joy and importance of hand-writing letters, notes, journals, etc.

For more information, visit http://worldstationeryday.com/ and http://www.nationalstationeryweek.com/.
 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Informed Delivery: It's Like a Crystal Ball for Your Mailbox

(From https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action)
Citizens across the United States will soon have the opportunity to peer into a digital "crystal ball" every morning and see what the day's mail service will bring. The U.S. Postal Service is introducing the Informed Delivery program to most of the country this month, letting everyone who signs up know by email what letters will soon be delivered.

According to the USPS website, participants in the new service will be able to receive images of the mail that will be placed in their mailbox each day. Black and white images of actual letter-sized mail pieces, processed by USPS sorting equipment, will be provided via email each morning. Flat-sized pieces, such as catalogues or magazines, may be added in the future.

The project has apparently been tested in several major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC. But, by April 14, 2017, the USPS expects to offer the service to most of the remaining ZIP codes in the U.S.

Bob Dixon, the executive program director of Informed Delivery, told NPR that participants in specific scenarios — like roommates who misplaced each other's mail or people who traveled frequently — found the daily messages helpful. "I and many people manage their life through a cellphone or tablet or some other digital medium," Dixon says in the NPR story. "As we become busier and busier, it's important to have things in one place."

The service can help fight mail theft; you'll know every day what's supposed to be in the mailbox and can alert authorities immediately if something is missing. 

For more information and to find out if your ZIP code is included in the program, visit the USPS website's Informed Delivery page.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Easy letter writing

Sometimes, even those of us who love to write letters get overwhelmed by everyday life and don't have time to mail out long, newsy letters. Here are some ideas for keeping up your correspondence during National Letter Writing Month, even when you are super busy:

* Put together a mini letter writing kit and keep it in your purse, backpack, briefcase, portfolio, etc. include some simple stationery, stamps, a pen, addresses of people you write to regularly. You'll be ready to write, any time, any place. 

* Remember that every "letter" doesn't have to be monumental mail. Send a postcard or a greeting card with a note written in the blank spaces. 

* Actually schedule in time to write letters. Once it's on your calendar, you'll make time for it. 

* Write your letter in snippets, a little now and more later. Let your letter's recipient know what you're doing. Write down the date and time of each entry. It's sort of like a journal letter.

* Get a nice sized envelope -- maybe 6x9 inches or even just a large greeting card envelope -- and keep it handy for a letter to a specific person. As you go through your day or week, fill the envelope with clippings from magazines and newspapers or even printouts from something you saw online...a cartoon you thought was funny, a recipe, an article about someone from your hometown. When you think of something to say, write it down on a sticky note or some other small note paper and put it in the envelope. When you have enough to make a suitable package letter, seal it up and put it in the mail.

Happy letterwriting!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's National Poetry Month, too

In addition to being National Letter Writing Month, it's also National Poetry Month, which was founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.

One of the goals of the AAP is to encourage the reading of poetry. That was something most of us did back in school, when the English teachers assigned poetry as one of our lessons. But, as the business of adulthood takes over our lives, poetry is one of those things that tends to fall to the wayside. With jobs to go to, meals to cook, laundry to wash...who has time to sit around reading poetry?

And, yet, if we take the time to do just that -- take a break and read a poem -- we can rediscover the joy of poetry, maybe even appreciate it more than we ever have.

One of the projects of this year's NPM is called "Dear Poet." Students in fifth through 12th grade are invited to participate in the multimedia education project by writing letters in response to poems written and read by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. To participate, students need to watch the videos of the chancellors reading and discussing one of their poems. Then, write them a letter in response and send it by post or email to the Academy of American Poets by April 30, 2017. All letters will be considered for publication on Poets.org in May 2017, and the chancellors will reply to some of the letters. For all of the details, go to the Dear Poet page online.

To celebrate both National Poetry Month and National Letter Writing Month, enclose a poem with your next letter!

Here's one by W.T. Goodge, published in his poetry collection "Hits! Skits! and Jingles!" in 1899:

The Postman
by W.T. Goodge

It is morning in the country and the postman's at the gate
With his letters and his packets, and he has no time to wait.
"Post!" he calls, to give you warning, and you start and stop your yawning
In the country, in the morning when the postman's at the gate.
And the country maiden blushes, for the envelope is pink;
And there's someone gone to Sydney, and you need n't stop to think,
And the country maiden blushes; for the envelope she rushes,
And she giggles and she gushes when the postman's at the gate!

It is morning in the country and the postman's at the gate,
And a worried woman hurries for the letter that is late;
For her husband is a drover and he's always been a rover
And he takes the cattle over for the Bungebah estate;
And there lately came a rumour he was injured on the track,
And her hand it shakes and trembles -- for the envelope is black.
The suspense is overbearing -- now the envelope she's tearing --
And she gives a cry despairing -- and the postman's at the gate!

It is morning in the country and the postman's at the gate.
On the message he carries does he ever speculate?
On the sorrow and the sadness, on the goodness and the badness,
On the happiness and gladness, on the love and on the hate?
He's the oracle of fortune, he's the Delphic up-to-date,
He's the mystic modern Mercury, the harbinger of fate;
Such a jarred and jangled chorus are the fates that hover o'er us,
And we know not what's before us when the postman's at the gate!


Monday, April 3, 2017

Some Letter Writing Topics for National Letter Writing Month

Woman Writing a Letter (1655) by Gerard ter Borch



Sometimes, sitting down to write a letter can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new at letter
writing or if you’re writing to someone you don’t know too well. In honor of National Card and Letter Writing Month (aka National Letter Writing Month), here are a few letter writing topics to get you started:

*  Describe your surroundings. Tell your letter’s recipient about the town you live in, your house, your room, your school, etc. What’s your commute to work/school like? What do you see when you look out your window?

*  Talk about the weather. It’s not as cliché as it sounds, especially if you’re writing to someone who lives in a completely different environment than you or if your area has recently experienced some unusual or noteworthy weather.

*  Share your opinion of your favorite band or author or movie. Explain why you like what you like and what you don’t like.

Remember to ask your penpal some questions, too. You want to give them something to write back about!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Finding people to write to

Here in Northcentral Texas, we’re having a rainy Sunday…perfect weather for writing letters on this second day of National Card and Letter Writing Month!

Many avid letter writers are encouraging everyone to write a letter every day this month. While that might not be feasible for everyone, it’s a great time to make the effort to send out some mail.

If you are new to letter writing – or even if you’ve been writing letters for a long time but you’re in a rut right now – you may be wondering just who you should write letters to. Here are a few suggestions about who you can write to in celebration of NCALWM:
  •  Family members – Parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles…write to them all!
  • Old friends who live far away
  • Former teachers who influenced your life
  • The editor of your local newspaper…share an opinion about something in your community
  • Your government representatives – tell them what kind of a job you think they’re doing in office
  • Strangers. Take a cue from the founder of The World Needs More Love Letters and write letters to strangers that you leave in public places, such as buses, libraries, shops, park benches, etc.
  Now, go find a pen (or pencil) and some paper and start writing that letter!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

It's National Letter Writing Month!


Today is the beginning of National Letter Writing Month – also known as National Card and Letter Writing Month – as recognized by the U.S. Postal Service since 2001.

Through the years, it seems, the USPS and other organizations have observed a variety of letter writing weeks and months. As far back as 1940, the postal service was celebrating Oct. 1-7 as National Letter Writing Week, which is when the poster at right was issued by the Illinois WPA Art Project. 

By 1980, National Letter Writing Week was designated as Feb. 24-March 1 with the issue of a set of special 15-cent stamps featuring phrases such as “Letters Lift Spirits,” “Letters Preserve Memories” and “Letters Shape Opinions.”

Letter writing weeks also are sometimes observed in January and September, and February has become known for InCoWriMo – International Correspondence Writing Month.

But, in 2001, the U.S. Postal Service announced April as National Card and Letter Writing Month, expanding what had previously been a weeklong celebration. That year, the USPS encouraged Americans to participate in the “Birthday Wishes to America” project with the National Postal Museum in honor of the 225th birthday of the United States of America.

Since then, several promotions have highlighted April as NCLWM or NLWM. In 2015, the USPS offered a set of stamps and matching stickers featuring the phrase “From Me to You.”

Let’s continue the tradition and celebrate National Card and Letter Writing Month throughout April!

Happy Letter Writing!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Put a smile on their faces!

Saturday is April 1 -- April Fools' Day, a day beloved by pranksters in many countries around the world.

When you're writing letters this weekend, entertain the recipient of your correspondence with a joke or two. If you don't know any jokes, check out the Reader's Digest website for some funny stories that are appropriate for people of all ages. 

Happy letter writing!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fashionable Postage at the USPS

Last month, the U.S. Postal Service introduced a set of stamps honoring the late fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. The Oscar de la Renta stamp pane includes 11 images — an evocative black-and-white portrait of de la Renta and 10 stamps that show details from some of the gowns he designed. 

The First Class Forever stamps cost 49 cents each and are sold in sheets of 11. Other products in the line include Press Sheet with Die-cut, Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (2 panes), First-Day Cover (set of 11), Digital Color Postmark (set of 11), Framed Art, and a Ceremony Program.

You can read more about the stamps and order some on the USPS website.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Six-year-old 'Kindness Ninja' spreads joy with letters

A 6-year-old boy from Pittsboro, Indiana, calls himself the "Kindness Ninja" and practices that kindness by sending letters of encouragement to everyone from classmates to college basketball players.

"“I just wanted to lift other people’s hearts to make them feel very good," Brad Ades told WLFI TV station in Lafayette, Indiana.

You can read or watch the story, as distributed by the CBS News Wire at WREG-Newschannel 3.

What a great story! (Thanks to my husband, Tony, for spotting it on the news and sharing it with me!)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Reach out to someone today



The area where I live has suffered several unrelated tragedies lately, tragedies that have involved the loss of several young lives. Seeing friends, acquaintances and fellow citizens grieving for their loved ones has been heartbreaking, and it reminds us all that life is too precious to be taken for granted. We do not know what will happen next week, tomorrow or even later today.

Don’t put off telling someone that you love them. Don’t delay in making that apology you know you need to make. Contact a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Reconnect with a distant relative.

This blog is all about letter writing, but if you’re putting off contacting someone because you don’t think you have time to sit down and write a proper letter, then communicate some other way. Call, email, text, video chat.  Send a Snap, a Tweet or a personal message on any medium. If you really want to write your message, consider a postcard or notecard for a shorter letter that you can get in the mail today.

The point is to reach out to those you care about. Let them know you care.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Writing a Letter to Yourself



Yesterday, I shared a link to Lily Collins’ letter to herself that’s featured in her new book
“Unfiltered.” She writes about her insecurities and self-doubts, but then she focuses on her strengths and capabilities. She writes to herself about the good things she does for herself and what she needs to do to keep reminding herself of her own self-worth. In the end, she commits to being the best person she can be and to give her the respect she deserves.

Writing a letter to yourself can be a little awkward at first. If you’re used to writing standard letters that start with “Hi, How are you? I’m doing fine,” you might not know how to begin. Here are a few tips for writing a letter to yourself:

 ·       * Have a reason for writing. Is there something momentous going on in your life right now that you want to make sure Future You remembers? Are you making plans, setting goals? Are you going through a rough patch in life? Maybe your life is fairly routine and you’d just like to record what’s going on at this time. A letter to yourself is a rather like a journal entry.
·         * You already know who you are, so there’s no need for introductions. However, if you plan on saving the letter for 10 or 20 or more years, you might want to put something in the letter that reminds Future You about why you’re writing the letter, just in case Future You has forgotten what the project is about.

·        *  Put a date on the letter, so there’s no doubt exactly when you wrote it.

·         * If you write about specific things in your life, such as your job or your best friend, etc., consider adding a few more details so that Future You knows exactly which job or friend you’re referring to.

·        *  If you’re going through some personal struggles, try not to be too negative. Take a cue from Lily Collins and look for your own strengths and detail out your goals for improvement.

·        *  Additionally, if you’re on top of the world right now, take an objective look at your situation and see who has helped you out along the way and what types of things you need to do to stay on the right track.

·        *  Take a moment to write about your hopes and dreams, all the things you want to accomplish. Make a commitment to achieving what’s really important to you.

·        *  Find that balance between being too hard on yourself and letting yourself get away with complacency. You want to be encouraging while holding yourself accountable.

·        *  When you’ve finished writing, seal the letter up in an envelope that you properly label. If you have a plan for when you’d like to open the letter, write that on the front. Then, store it somewhere where you’ll be sure to find it one day, a personal safe, a scrapbook, a safe deposit box, etc.

Now, get busy making all those plans and dreams come true!
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