Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss would have been 111 yesterday.  By total coincidence, my creative wife sculpted a Cat in the Hat around our mailbox after our recent big snow. My mailbox usually makes me happy, but it was almost magical for a few days!

 

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Snail Mail…It Matters!

One of the joys of this blog is that occasionally people find it and send me letters saying they enjoy reading SSM and share a love of all things snail mail.

I love this. But the message is especially sweet when it comes with handmade snail mail cards!!!

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Addie from Colorado sent these to me.  I love her adorable, letter-focused snails.

Thanks, Addie! A real reply is headed your way via the USPS.

January is National Thank You Month

You have nearly two weeks left to send off your thanks for the many kindnesses folks have done recently–holiday gifts, parties, errands, or for just being your friend.  If you need a refresher on the basics on writing a thank you note, here you go.

And if you really want to say thank you, you can send a bottle of bubbly in a beautiful mailbox.  Veuve Clicquot has recently had a design contest to redesign their mailboxes.  Check out these babies.  My favorite is the play on words–“chain mail box.”

Design by: Lars Wannop, Australia winner

P.S. Thank YOU for reading!

Resolutions for the New Year

Have you made any resolutions?  I usually welcome a new year as an opportunity to revamp absolutely everything about myself–health, friendships, house cleaning, artistic endeavors, flossing routines.  I figure if I try to change everything, something good will stick.  This usually works out and is also more fun than choosing just one big thing and being disappointed when it doesn’t.

In case you’re looking for more resolutions to add to your list (or just one good one), you might consider adding more letter writing to your life.  Snail mail enthusiasts (which I assume you, dear reader, are) might already write a lot of letters.  But in case you are more of a postal voyeur, or you are looking for a bit of encouragement to put pen to paper, you might consider what Emily did. She wrote a letter a week for a year to someone important in her life, extolling their virtues and her thankfullness for having them in her life.  I think this is 1) a reasonable pace and 2) a good way of reminding yourself to consciously appreciate what people bring into your life.  Friends, coworkers, family and near-strangers might bring joy, a sense of humor, good cooking, or a keen eye for detail.  And people like being recognized for the unique gifts they bring to others.  It’s a win-win.

Image: Crane & Co.

If you are feeling really frisky–you could to a thank you note a day like John Kralik.  He says all that focus on the good things he experienced every day (to which he had to pay attention so he could send a thank you note) changed his life!

In the post-holiday lull, it’s a good time to send those notes of gratitude for holiday kindnesses and it’s a nice way to brighten up a cold, dreary month.  Happy writing!

With thanks,

Dana

Slow Down

I just watched a TED talk by Carl Honore about slowing down.

I recently read Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed: work, love and play when no one has the time.

I’ve participated in the National Day of Unplugging.

I reaffirmed the virtues and power of being an introvert while reading Quiet by Susan Cain.

I’ve read about research that shows we are actually more productive when we have reasonable work days and weeks.

And I very much enjoyed Vi Hart‘s most recent Crazy Snail video about wondering whether we should just keep climbing things. (If you are into snails singing songs, see this one which is a bit less depressing!)

Which of course reminded me of one of my favorite books, Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus about how pushing against societal expectations to “just keep climbing” and instead slowing down and looking internally can help you become the being you want to be.

As you can see, I have worked hard at figuring out how and why I should slow down–and how to feel like I’m allowed to do so.

But I’m writing this as other pressing work deadlines push me to distraction.  In fact, I think it’s this feeling that led me to write this.  Slowing down, taking time, daydreaming and making space for creativity and wonder are necessary.  But at times pushing against expectations from family, work, and culture can make this difficult.  Slowing down, for me, remains a work in progress, a practice I must return to over and over as I fail time and again to allow myself these necessary pleasures.

But there have been successes!  This summer I have found that my most treasured moments are those when I let myself completely *be* in the present–sitting on my deck and listening to the breeze, savoring a meal by candlelight with my partner, writing letters to share tiny details, watching a nesting bird, seeking ever-smaller seashells and then nestling them neatly together, digging potatos with my dad, or chatting with a curious dragonfly.

These are the thoughts that swirl through my mind as I realize that my local stationery shop has closed (well, it moved to Durham, which essentially leaves Chapel Hill without a shop!) and leaves me wondering what else we will lose as a culture if we don’t collectively take time to slow down and reconnect with one another and our selves in ways that do not require a screen to serve as the intermediary.

So I am reaching through a screen to you.

I am writing these thoughts–though they are nothing new in a world that has been encouraging meditation for thousands of years–as a bit of encouragement for anyone seeking a “reason” to step back, draw inward or sit still.

You’re grown. You’re allowed.  And you’ll be better off for it.

To help your mind wander, here are a few photos I captured this summer while I was letting my mind wander. Looking closely helps me filter the rest of the world out.  How do you slow down?

grass shells Moth weed bouquet and canned tomatoes spiky bug