My dear friends,
It is with great pleasure that I share this guest blogger with you today. The subject is something very dear to Mabel's heart, the beautiful tradition of letter writing and the guest is a new friend who I already consider to be one of those most special of friends.
Please meet Naomi Bulger (who you can find over on her gorgeous instagram account @naomibulger).
When I first met Naomi, through Instagram, I instantly thought that her and Mabel must be long lost friends! Their values and traditions are so similar although I'm sure Naomi's temper isn't as remotely as explosive as dear Mabel's ;)
Naomi's special gift to this world is her love of letter writing and her oh-so-sweet artworks that adorn her 'snail mail' envelopes. I received one of Naomi's handmade creations after seeing a very kind call out for recipients on Instagram and it took me DAYS to open as I put aside a little time each day to draw out only one element of her special package and to admire the care and attention in each detail. Receiving such a heartfelt letter made me realise how special that personal connection is. Especially in a day where communication is often quick and to the point.
I hope you enjoy reading Naomi's words as she describes how she fell in love with the art of letter writing.
Naomi, thank you xo
I once read about an experiment in which a girl hand-wrote, in calligraphy, every text message she sent for a week. Whenever someone sent her a text message, she would write her answer on a piece of paper – or a napkin, or the back of a menu – then take a photograph of it and send it back.
It was supposed to be a project to improve her calligraphy, but the experiment revealed so much more. She learned that handwritten messages – even when photographed and sent via SMS – carried a personal touch, and allowed for more self-expression. “Flourishes,” she said. And she learned to slow down and put more thought into what she was saying.
“Writing out responses is a great reminder to slow down and use your hands,” she explained. “While all keys on a keyboard feel the same, it’s difficult to replicate the tactile activity of tracing a letter’s shape. The connection between the hand and mind allows written language to flow easier.”
I had been writing letters to strangers for a long time before I started writing letters to my friends.
The letters to strangers were part of an ongoing art project, and I loved crafting them, thinking about the unknown hands that would hold them in unknown families and unknown homes.
But it wasn’t until I decided to quit Facebook, about 18 months ago, that I started writing to my friends as well. Facebook had come to play an increasingly negative role in my life, but I had hesitated from leaving it because I was afraid I’d lose contact with out-of-town friends.
In an effort to stay in touch, I pledged to write more letters to my friends. What made it easier was giving myself permission not to have to write lengthy epistles every time. I collected postcards, note-books, greeting cards, paper bags, basically anything with room to write on it, and whenever I thought of my friends, I simply wrote it down and posted it off.
Little missives: status updates, text messages, by hand.
“We went out for spaghetti last night and it reminded me of that time you and I had dinner on Brunswick Street and put on fake American accents all night.”
“Madeleine started kinder this week and she has never been prouder of herself. How is little Rosie? Send me pictures!”
“We drove for two days to give the kids new adventures and fresh experiences, and so far the highlight for them has been discovering that Peppa Pig plays on TV in Queensland, too. Parenting fail!”
“Do you remember the last time you were visiting, you picked those flowers and we pressed them? I found them! Here they are! I’m thinking of you.”
My letters and notes are rarely long, nor particularly profound. Just little snippets and mementos of my life and thoughts and emotions.
But to my friends, when these ‘tangible texts’ arrive in their letter-boxes covered in stamps and often bearing the creases and stains of their journeys across land and sea, bearing the smudges of my pen and the scrawl of my handwriting and the mistakes of my spelling… they carry so much more value and meaning than any number of love-heart emoticons could ever express.
For me, a handwritten letter is mindfulness, creativity and hygge all rolled into one. It is a personal, tangible artifact of a friendship. It is an act of love, because in our over-scheduled, multi-tasking lives, there is no greater gift you can give someone than the gift of your time.
A handwritten letter can bring joy for a moment or joy for a lifetime, in the re-reading. But it almost always brings joy.
Thank you Naomi! What you do brings joy to so many people.
Please do check out more of Naomi's musings and to sign up to her 1000 postcard project - right here.