Hello, friends! I am into Week #16 of my Excellent Experiment and have set up what feels like permanent camp on this darn plateau. I have not been able, for the life of me, to lose another pound since my birthday weekend. I am holding strong at negative 29. Can you believe it??!
Glass half full: I haven't gained an ounce! Wo-hoo! Glass half empty: Sheesh. (imagine head shakes) Major frustration. A dose of discouragement.
BUT!! The cool thing is this: despite the "situation", I have not lost hope. Well, I momentarily did yesterday, but my amazing husband talked me down from the proverbial ledge. I have reevaluated, reprayed, and recommitted to myself to win on this battlefield. I WILL NOT GIVE UP!!! Nope, not gonna.
Yesterday my mind kept running through this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke:
"If your every day life seems poor, don't blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not a poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator, there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place."
I decided to ditch the grumpiness and access my inner poet, to create for myself a little slice of loveliness and gratitude right smack in the middle of a too-busy afternoon. You can see in the photo above what I did: opting to let the sunshine affect my mood, I took with me out to the patio a basket containing the following things:
1. Thank-you note cards and envelopes, cute stamps, and my favorite Pilot G2 .07 writing pen;
2. An old book that I had just pulled off the living room shelf called "Choosing Happiness" by my favorite author of all time, Alexandra Stoddard;
3. A cup of Fuji apple slices and a goblet of iced lemon water.
I was behind on thank-you notes and loved the idea of focusing outside myself, and on the kindnesses of my friends ... to set my mental stage, I read Alexandra and found some wonderful quotes from wonderful minds on how to be happy. I liked a few so much that I wrote one on the back of each colored envelope! An hour and a half later, notes were written, apple slices were eaten, disgusting tennis ball had been repeatedly thrown for my faithful Doodle, and evidence of the long-elusive sunshine now showed on my arms and legs. I felt great!
I have always loved to write and receive letters. I have bundles of ribbon-tied, special notes tucked away here and there. You know the feeling you get when you pull the mail out of the mailbox and you catch a glimpse of the corner of a colored envelope with someone's REAL HANDWRITING on it?? So exciting, especially amidst all of the junk mail and bills.
My first penpal was my father's mother, Grandmother Dorothy, who lived in Florida, 3,000 miles from my home in southern California. When I was eight, she and I began writing back and forth ... she was delightfully interested in my little-girl life, and would always follow-up with questions based on my last letter. Her lilac-scented letters in her quirky cursive writing were always written on floral stationary. Each was filled with sentences accentuated heavily with exclamation points, smiley faces, and little doodles in the margins. Every one was a gift, and despite our age difference, we became real pals.
Grandmother and I both loved to write about the "mysteries" (books) we were reading (me: Nancy Drew, her: Agatha Christie), and one time she surprised me by sending a box full of her favorite old, dusty paperbacks. This is especially tender to me now, as I never got to meet Grandmother Dorothy in this life. But I still have a little stack of her notes and a few of her mysteries. Both are precious to me.
One more personal experience with a letter received:
In fifth grade, I was chosen to be the narrator for our 5th/6th grade chorus' patriotic program. We performed right in the middle of our town's local mall, and I remember stepping down from the risers in my blue gingham long dress, my hair back in a bun, and nervously approaching the microphone. As the chorus behind me softly sang the first verse of "This is My Country", I delivered my first lines: "What difference if I hail from North or South, or from the East or West? My heart is filled with love for all of these..."
A week after the performance, I received a beautiful little light blue envelope (with a bird sticker on the back) in the mail. The mother of a girl I didn't really know had seen our show, and she took the time to write TO ME to tell me what a nice job I did on my part. AND she told me that I looked lovely in my dress and that she was sure that my parents must be very proud of me. I unfolded, re-read, and folded that letter over and over during my tenth year. Someone I didn't even know had taken a bit of their time to communicate kindness to me. I was in love with this idea of sharing through the handwritten word.
In today's world of fast-fast-fast emails, texts, IMing and the like, we are sacrificing the art of letter-writing. I want to hang on to this practice, to drop a note to someone when I feel impressed to. I want to be able to feel the little rush of excitement when I open MY mailbox and see something personal, just for me. Writing a note is on my list of "Dailies", and I try to send at least one per week. Dropping those stamped envelopes in the local mailbox almost guarantees a smile on the receiving end, as well as a happier heart for me, the sender.
"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." (Marcel Proust)
What are your earliest memories of letter-writing?? Do you make time to send notes through the mail?? If so, how do you keep this art alive in your life??