Letters!

Yesterday was “blah.”  I struggled through the day.  The sun fought bravely for a moment, so I opened my curtains to let the light in fully.  I normally work with only natural light in my office, so I figure having to turn the lights on contributed to my malaise.  The sun’s dominance was short-lived.

My mood suddenly turned bright when I arrived home to find four wonderful pieces of “real” mail waiting for me in the mailbox.  My heart jumped for joy!

First a postcard for “Superhero PC Swap #1” from “namelessgirl” (that’s her actual swap-bot name).

Action Comics No.419, December 1972 | Artists: Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson, DC Comics

Action Comics No. 419 |December 1972| Artists: Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson, DC Comics

She writes that she loves all things superhero and she just finished reading the book Super Gods by Grant Morrison.

My partner’s favorite superhero is Batman, so I sent her two postcards:

Detective Comics No. 587 |June 1988| Artist: Norm Breyfogle, DC Comics

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Detective Comics No. 38 |April 1940| Artists: Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, DC Comics

I also received lists of fairytales, myths, and folklore from Pynart, who hosted the swap “I Still Believe in 398.2,” the Dewey Decimal number for folk literature.  Swappers were supposed to send three lists–cherished fairytales, myths, and folklore.

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I love the “Puss in Boots” envelope.  I’m still working on making my too-long lists manageable, and I plan to include one of the lesser known tales with the letter to my partner. Shhh…don’t tell.

I received not one, but two letters from Artybeth, one of my pen friends and a “Christian Friend” on swap-bot.

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This first one was for a Christian Friends swap, “Spiritual Goals 2015.”  We were to share our spiritual goals in a letter and place an encouraging scripture on the outside of the envelope. As usual, Artybeth enclosed extra goodies–more washi tape samples for me! I really like getting samples with swaps.  I usually  get samples of washi tape that I don’t have–there are so many great ones!  But what I really like is that they’re flat and fit anywhere, so they’re perfect for journaling and letter writing on the go!

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The second one was just because…Well, really, in response to a letter I’d written to her back in November.  Again, she enclosed cute extras.  I’m loving the vintage typewriter and Snoopy happy with a letter; this is probably what I looked like after leaving the mailbox.

Well, I’m off to respond to letters and start my list of individuals to write during “Month of Letters 2015”–a letter, notecard, postcard, happy mail into the world every day.

Wishing you a happy mail day…

Getting Through the CraZieS: part ii

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A few days ago, I shared my friend Beckra’s strategies for surviving the super-stressful moments in life. A day or two later than promised,  I’m sharing some of the suggestions I offered her:

  • Photo Walk. Take a walk…with your camera.  You saw this one coming. Right? My camera has saved my sanity so many times that I’ve lost count.

When things get a bit crazy, I grab my camera and take a walk. There’s always something new to capture, always something to take my mind off  present matters or help me see them clearly. Of course, going for a walk is a good way to decompress–even without the camera.

  • Inspiration Wall. Create an “inspiration wall” or bulletin board.  In my “old” office at work, I had a “wall of inspiration” of writers who inspire me. I also had another space that was filled with beautiful images and words. Since these are not suitable for my current office, I am “relocating” my walls to my home office. The images not only inspire me but they also remind me that though we struggle, there’s something much larger operating and something grander falling into place.
  • Doodle. Take out your pens or sharpies and doodle (or paint or draw).  I used to think that writing (journaling) was my best stress reliever or survival strategy. However, when my sister died last year, my grief was larger than words, and I found myself choking back the bile, grief, the utter disappointment. Doodling helped tremendously–even if I doodled just one word or around a word or phrase. I found that doodling can be just as effective in relieving stress as writing. Bonus: I think doodling is improving my drawing.  If you’ve been following long enough, you know I am not an artist, but my hubby pointed out that I am improving. Woohoo!
  • Scissors, Tape, Glue.  Cut something.  Tape something. Glue something.  My finding this relaxing surely has something to doUntitled with using my hands. I usually carry a crafting pouch with me. It contains stickers, glue, pretty pens, card stock, washi tape, and pretty paper to make envelopes and/or write letters, a few postcards. Scissors are a must, because something about the repetition of cutting is so relaxing and calming (well, for me).

My little one gave me a wonderful crafting bag for Christmas last year–he filled it with washi tape and stickers. I have it already packed with 12×12 scrapbooking paper and a “We are Memory Keepers” envelope maker–ready for my long and stressful days. The cutting, measuring, scoring, folding and gluing–sure stress relief. Bonus: pretty envelopes to share and for mailing.

  • A “Distant” Shoulder. Lean on someone detached from your situation.  Just about all of my closest friends are academicians and it’s so easy to pick up the phone and call one of them when I face certain challenges. However, when I’m in over-stressed, crisis mode re: work, it’s beneficial to turn to someone who isn’t experiencing the same stressors. Sometimes we need more than someone to commiserate. We need a different perspective to help us see the larger picture.
  • Lists. Make lists.  I’ve always been a lister in one way or another, but just last fall I rediscovered listing in a whole new way. I’ve become a list journaler and I’m discovering so much about myself in the process. I’ve been transforming my lists into beautiful documents that reflect my inner and outer life. I’ve been embellishing them with doodles, washi tape, scrapbooking paper and elements and my own photography. I think my son will have quite a few beautiful journals to treasure.

Lists can be writtUntitled 2en anywhere–in a coffee shop, at work, in a meeting, even at church (shhh…don’t tell)–in a notebook, on scrap paper, or even on a napkin.  You can list anything–what is frustrating you at the moment; what is working; what isn’t working; ways to handle a crisis moment, etc.

  • Change Your View. Instead of focusing on the issue at hand, take a moment to turn around (or look up) and gaze elsewhere.
  • The Four Agreements. Exercise Don Miguel Ruiz’s “the four agreements”–Be impeccable with your word.  Don’t take things personally.  Don’t make assumptions.  Always do your best.

Ruiz’s The Four Agreements is a work of genius. I’ve had the agreements memorized since I read his book at the recommendation of a good friend many years ago; they’ve gotten me through some rough spots. I remind myself of the second agreement, “Don’t take things personally,” almost daily.

  • Laugh. Find something humorous and laugh out loud. It really works!
  • Scripture Recall.  Memorize and meditate over biblical scriptures.   This is one of my standard methods for dealing with the crazies, especially those situations that unsettle me immediately.  I have a number of “go to” Bible verses that I recall in stressful situations.  I typically combine “scripture recall” with some of the other methods listed above.

That’s it for now.  I hope you’ve found something in this post and the previous post to help you get through the super-stressful moments.Untitled 2_3

Note:  All the photos in this post were taken on my iPhone. These are “Alex’s Flowers.” Alex is a wonderful person who I met just a few months ago.  She celebrated her birthday October 9, exactly one week after mine.  🙂 She received dozens of flowers on her birthday, and I managed to get in a few shots before she whisked them away.   They’re so bright and cheerful!

 

 

“A Few of My Favorite Things”

What do you do with the “leftover,” extra photos cluttering your workspace or filling boxes?  Do you toss them?  Repurpose them?  Give them away?  One of the things I enjoy doing with my extra photos is “destashing” them through Sharp Shooters, a group on swap-bot.  I typically host a “destash” swap quarterly, so Sharp Shooters can “unload” their extras on someone who can use them.  The swaps typically call for “destashing” at least 5-7 different photos and swappers can send the photos “as is” or make notecards, postcards or collages with them before sending them to their partners.

Maggie, “an Australian gal,” sent an amazing package of 30 photos!  She went way beyond expectation and thoughtfully selected photos with a few of my favorite things in mind–water, nature, and the color pink.  These just happen to be some of her favorites as well.  She packaged each set separately in self-made envelopes with a bit of explanation on one side and washi tape on the other.

I bet you can guess from the washi tape colors which set of photos each envelope held.

All the water photos were taken around various beaches in and around Melbourne, Victoria, with the exception of the cute duck. The duck was taken at the lake of the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Maggie admits being “addicted to the water,” so it’s one of her favorite things to capture on camera.

Most of the nature photos were taken around her neighborhood during the spring and summer.  Some were “staged” shots in her home.

Maggie “loves pink…it’s as simple as that!”  For her, finding pink flowers to photograph is a pleasure, so she sent many beautiful pink flowers. She also included a seahorse skeleton her sister found at the beach many years ago.  The skeleton isn’t pink, but the background is.

I have so many plans for Maggie’s photos!  Some are headed for the “Wall of Inspiration” in my “work” office, and others will find a home in my 2014 Project Life album.

Maggie is a design student and has an Etsy shop where she sells some of her fine art prints and notecards.  If you love her photos and want to see more, check out her store.

For now…enjoy!