Happy Valentine’s Day!

The day of love is almost here.  If you hurry, you can still mail a love letter and have it arrive in time for Valentine’s Day! Making valentines is one of my favorite craft projects.  And I don’t reserve them for just my spouse–I enjoy sending love to family, friends, and pen pals.

And the stamp you put on the envelope is one more opportunity to spread the love.  One of my favorite enduring practices of the United States Postal Service is their near-annual issuing of Love stamps since the early 1980s.    Check out this list featuring all of the designs since 1974!

In time for Valentine’s Day, the USPS has just released their 2018 Love stamp design.  I have already ordered two sheets  (and you can, too!).

I like the handwritten and vintage feel of it.  It shares an aesthetic to one of my favorite stationery designers: Rifle Paper Co.

However you do it, and on whatever day you choose, I hope you find ways to write down your loving thoughts and share them with people who are important to you.  In this world of instant communication, handwritten letters and homemade cards become cherished keepsakes.

So, go. Find some glitter, heart stickers, and markers and create your heart out.  Do it now. Enjoy the process. And then spread the love!

 

 

 

Weekends are for Letter Writing

I had a great weekend of letter writing!

InCoWriMo is going along swimmingly.  Five days in and I have sent 15 cards and letters! The goal of writing and sending at least one letter a day has me actively seeking inspiration for who to reach out to next.  I’m uncovering birthdays and other reasons to celebrate, being more mindful of things I can express gratitude for, and developing some mail art ideas to create and launch into the world.

How are you spending InCoWriMo?  What inspires you to write?

 

InCoWriMo

Well, this post is a day late (and a dollar short, as my Dad used to say), but February is International Correspondence Writing Month!  Affectionately known as InCoWriMo, the goal is to write and send a letter, note, postcard–something!–every day of February.

I think we can catch up!

I had set a goal that I would send 365 letters this year and have already sent 36, so I’m doing OK.  But it’s already Groundhog Day and I haven’t sent one yet in February, so I have to get crackin’.

Fortunately, I have a late January birthday, so I can begin with some thank you notes for the gifts and kindnesses I received.  And as the winter chill keeps us indoors and some days are dark and gray, a bright note in a mailbox will be good to send some cheer to friends, pen pals and loved ones as we await spring.

And if being part of a larger movement is your thing, you can sign up as a participant here and join the party.

Happy writing!

Snowy Day Stamps

This is the best time of year for my mailbox, and likely yours.  Every day brings a holiday card or end-of-year letter.  And there is glitter everywhere!*

Each year, I get so excited to choose my stamps for the 100 holiday cards I send out.  This year, I knew nearly a year in advance which ones would be decorating my envelopes: the four images of Peter playing in the snow from one of my favorite childhood books, A Snowy Day.

These images, drawn in the early 1960s, still evoke a sense of fun and adventure through their simple design.  But given the world we are in today, these stamps are more than that.  They are a tiny but mighty way of affirming the beauty and innocence of children of color in a world that too often fails at this.   As Andrea Davis Pinkney, recently wrote:

My hope is that the stamps bearing Peter’s image will usher forth positive perceptions, and will make even the most device-driven people glance up from their phones and newsfeeds to enjoy the beauty of a child’s adventure.

A black kid in a hoodie now stands proudly at the upper right corner of millions of envelopes. A brown-skinned boy brings comfort and joy during the holiday season. A child of color helps you and me pay our bills. He’ll bring smiles to people whose mailboxes will be filled with glad tidings. No one will see this kid as a menace, or as a scary societal hazard who portends danger.

Stamps are powerful. They shape narratives about who we see ourselves as as Americans, and show what we value–or should.  So, while these stamps make great additions to Christmas cards, I hope they continue to decorate your letters in the coming year–each one sending a message of hope.

 

If you haven’t gotten yours just yet, you can still purchase them at your local post office or at the Postal Store online.

 

*Random trivia: glitter is called “flitter” by the card designers at Hallmark.  I learned this from my pen pal at The Well-Appointed Desk.

Christmastime in New Orleans

It snowed last week in New Orleans! It was mostly slush in the city, but everyone was talking about how rare snow is in those parts and how it added to the holiday feel.

I spent some time at the historic Roosevelt Hotel for a conference and the hotel was decorated lavishly for the holidays with trees and lights lining the hallways.

But of course, my eye was drawn to this beautiful brass mailbox, still in use after all these years!

And even the mailbox lock was beautiful.

I have dozens of photos of mailboxes in historic buildings across the United States.  I love the feeling I get when one of these beauties reveals itself!

Eclipse!

The Great American Eclipse is today!

The USPS issued a commemorative stamp (in June, on the summer solstice) to celebrate this rare event.

These stamps use a special ink that is black when cool, showing a total solar eclipse. The ink fades when heated by your breath or finger to reveal the moon!

You can buy them here. The back of the stamp sheet provides a map of the path of totality:

You can learn more about the stamps and their special ink here.

Post offices in the path of the eclipse are offering special pictorial cancellations until September.  You can find a post office and request these special cancellations here.

If you have never requested special postmarks, here are some great instructions to get a pristine example back!

Here are a couple of examples of pictorial cancellations:

Most of the U.S. will see at least a partial eclipse today, so be safe in your viewing. If you would rather just watch the total eclipse online, you can find some options here.

And I recommend you check out this TED video. It’s incredible!!

 

 

Connection Builds Trust; Trust Leads to Love; Love Conquers Hate

I have been thinking a lot about the state of the world these days.  And I’ve been feeling a need to write.  And I wondered if any of this had anything to do with snail mail and whether it would “fit” here on this blog that I’ve not come back to for so long.

And then I realized that it all fits, because writing letters and sending them across the land to another builds connections between two beings.  And connection is exactly what we need right now.

So much about our culture is designed to push us apart, put us in separate boxes, highlight differences and make the unfamiliar or strange or different into an enemy to be destroyed.

So today I wanted to stand up for connection and share loudly and clearly that I reject white supremacy, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, xenophobia, and any other fear-based mindset that serves only to drive us apart, justify oppression and perpetuate rampant exploitation  of our earth’s natural resources.

So much of our society currently follows a way that is far from our roots.  All of our peoples, irrespective of origin, once lived fully connected to the earth, her cycles and rhythms.  And the further we part from that, the more we forget who we are and what we are meant to do.

We are meant to connect, to build deep trust and reliance on our communities. And we are meant to contribute our love, our energy, and our gifts in ways that better the world.

In honor of my realization that this blog, and my thoughts, are about more than snail mail, but are still very much about the values related to my love for sending letters, I’ve changed the tag line of this blog from:

Save Snail Mail: Preserving Handwritten Traditions in a Modern World

to:

Save Snail Mail and Other Things That Make Life Worth Living

We need to save it all–all that keeps us human and whole and connected and loving one another.  I’m going to go write some letters as part of that.  I hope you do, too.

With love,

Dana

 

P.S.

I felt called to write this today after reading Layla Saad’s thoughtful, respectful, vulnerable and strength-filled letter.  I encourage everyone to read it and then take action in ways that contribute to dismantling racism and white supremacy. And write your own letters to the world, too.

P.P.S  This image gives me hope.  It is my wish that each one there and all of us who see this photo take action tomorrow and the next day, have the difficult conversations, face our own parts in this unjust system, and keep working at it until we truly can call ourselves the land of the free.

Image from NPR article “Torches Replaced by Candlelight as Thousands Gather for Charlottesville Vigil”

The New Year

It has been a dark year, personally for certain, but also culturally, politically, and environmentally. I lost my father unexpectedly. People have been put in charge who care only about their power as they exploit the earth and the diverse people who inhabit it. We lost so many visionaries: storytellers who saw magic in the world, sexy gender-boundary expanders, frank discussants of personal experiences with mental illness, composers of heart-expanding music. We lost black lives that mattered, queer lives that mattered, and poor lives that mattered because there are many in power who do not yet see the beauty and value in each of us.

Most of us are afraid of the dark. But the dark–of the night, of the future–though filled with dangers real and imagined, is also the darkness of possibility. The darkness of soil or womb in which a seed planted, grows, moving towards the light. A seed sprouting first, always, in the dark, the light being an inhospitable place for potential to begin the transformation into actual.

So as I sit in the dark tomorrow, saying goodbye to a year that was and hello to what will be, I will be that seed of possibility: bursting forth into the new year, reaching for the light.

Join me?

My biggest fan…

My dad passed away quite suddenly in February and I miss him dearly.  I wanted to recognize his passing here at Save Snail Mail because he was this blog’s biggest fan.  He checked it regularly, was one of my first commenters, and encouraged me to write more (nay, nagged me!) when it had been a while since I’d posted. Here is one of his blog comments from last October:

I know you have moved in to a new house and traveled everywhere for pleasure and business but it has been six months and snail mail has been getting slower and slower and may disappear completely without your dynamic presence. See ya….

My dad was instrumental in engendering in me an early love for office and stationery supplies.  Our back-to-school shopping sprees were  EPIC!  We bonded over pens and pencils and protractors and paper.

He always chose and sent the best birthday cards, Valentine cards, and Christmas cards.  He even remembered special events like our wedding anniversary.  He sent me a postcard when I was a baby before I could read.  I turned it into a fathers day card for him over 30 years later.  He was so diligent about getting cards to us on time that a couple days before he passed, while in a hospital bed, he apologized because he hadn’t gotten to the post office to get Kris’ birthday card and present in the mail!

He was a sweet, loving, generous man and he will be dearly missed.  Having cards and letters from him, in his handwriting, help me enjoy the memories a bit more clearly and for that, I am very thankful.

 

Dad nose