Dear reader, when was the last time you sent a handwritten letter to a loved one? In this day and age of digital media, our words and feelings can easily be conveyed at the tips of our fingers and the clicking sounds of the keyboard. We insert emojis to add flare and visuals, but that’s it! That’s the most personal it can get, well, aside from the content of your message.Do you remember the trips to the stationery stores and sift through shelf after shelf to find that perfect pair of paper and envelope? There were tons to choose from! There were vintage designs, glittery designs, scented papers, special textured papers, and so on. Then you pick the best ink, which will not leave marks on the back nor smudge on the paper when the ink is still wet.Or the trips to the post office. When you hold the postcard and letter close to your heart before dropping it into the mailbox, hoping the letters will be received by the recipient in no time. Call me old-fashioned, but I love receiving letters that I can touch and smell, and see erasures that I call marks of love.And on this day, September 1, we celebrate World Letter Writing Day. And the best way to celebrate is to--of course, write letters! To make it more special, make it a family activity or invite friends over so you can all do this activity together.
With all the digital noise that surrounds us every day, it’s good to find some solitary time with just paper and pen in hand, and reconnect with ourselves and our intimate feelings. When we write, we practice the art of reflecting. We collect our thoughts before writing them down. We think carefully about what words to use to best express our feelings. Because in this age of digital divide, the backspace key has always been our frenemy. It is so easy to take back our thoughts, or just click the unsend or recall button. We cannot own our words anymore. And that’s the connection that we are fostering nowadays. By writing in cursive, or whatever writing style you have, we are somehow forging a special connection that says, “Hey, I’m giving you my full attention.” But we just hope it does not give them the creeps.For the parents out there, teaching your kids to write down their thoughts and feelings will help them develop their communication skills. It will boost their confidence, and writing will help channel their creativity. And for you, parents, isn’t it nice to keep your kid’s handwritten letters as keepsakes, and read them again every now and then? I’m sure when they get older, it would be nice to reminisce about the good old days. And when they are older, they will start to feel distant. And teaching them to write and express themselves well will bridge the communication gap that may arise.
Create a dedicated space for writing
Forming a habit not only begins in one’s determination and free will but also in the environment that is conducive for that activity. So, why not create a writing nook? A converted, multi-use garage room can be that space! You don’t need too large a space, for as long as it is neat and bright, and comfortable to let our thoughts roam freely.In my case, I picked a corner near the big window of my garage. I set up a table--Fleximounts WB201 Garage WorkBench with Built-in Drawer--and a cushioned office chair. I hung a corkboard and whiteboard to serve as my pegboards and idea bank. And mere steps away, there I installed a Fleximounts BR24 2-Pack 2’ x’ 4’ Wall Mounted Shelving, where I store my stationeries and art materials, lovingly placed inside a basket and decoupage boxes. You can call me a habitual hoarder, but every time I get a chance to visit art stores and office supply stores, it is most often than not that I bring home with me specialty papers, collectible stamps, and little trinkets that I can use to design my letters with. And with all the writing materials I have managed to collect all these years, good storage to keep them is really one of my priorities. Good thing, a friend of mine, who also shares the same hobby as me, sent me a link to these reliable wall shelving and cute baskets.
Starting is always the hardest part. Pen clicking and hand tapping on the tables may be the sounds that fill the space whenever you start. Do not worry, you will soon get over that. You can start by listing down the people you may want to communicate with. Is it your friend who is celebrating his birthday soon? Or your grandparents who live far away from your home, and ever since the pandemic began, you were not able to visit? Or probably your co-worker who is feeling a bit down due to the work stress and isolation? Or maybe the frontliners within the community to give them a lift during these trying times?Once you have picked a person in mind to write to, it is now time to craft your thoughts. This is the best time, to be honest. Compliment them, express how you miss and adore them, encourage them to stay strong, and hold on. These words may not mean much to you as you write, but they may mean the world to them.And you could write to yourself. Tell yourself how great you are, even though you fail sometimes, you did not meet your own expectations, you are still one heck of a person to have survived this pandemic! Write your worries, goals, narrate your day, and if you will read your letter to yourself in three to five years, you will see how far you have gone. And good job, self, for loving to write again.P.S. And with love, seal it with a stamp or a kiss--if you are feeling a little cheesy. I hope they write back to you soon. Yes, yourself included.