We designed our inspire card as an invitation to embrace vulnerability, to lean into gratitude, and to reach out and let someone know how they've inspired you. This is something that you already do regularly. Can you tell us a bit about your motivation to use letters to reach out in this way?
First, thank you for designing the inspire card. I really need this card in my stash so I will have to buy a stack of them! My mother deeply impressed the idea of writing thank you notes to me as a child, i.e. nagged me until I had written a note to Aunt Gerry for my birthday gift : ).
Gratitude is one of my core values and when someone inspires you, I think they should know that they made the world a little bit better place. I get great joy when people tell me days, months or years later, “hey that thing you said really helped me”. I try to pass that along. It does take vulnerability to do that and there is no greater skill to hone than expressing your vulnerability in safe environments. Letter writing is my artist way. It’s my medium for bringing out the joy in my heart and soul. I was recently given the honor of hosting a letter writing event at The Morgan Library in NYC to coincide with an exhibit on display now called The Magic of Handwriting. When my contact called me the “teaching artist” I realized – yes that is what I am….a letter writing artist!
What types of people do you reach out to in this way?
I reach out to friends, family, colleagues, famous actors/writers/activists, acquaintances, people I meet very briefly. I don’t have to know them at all to communicate my feelings. Here are some examples of the way it has happened across these types of people.
Someone I met very briefly:
In December I hosted a letter writing workshop at my favorite boutique in St. Croix, Adorn. One of the participants got REALLY into it. She was the sister of a friend of mine but we had never met before. As I was collecting all the outgoing mail that the group produced, I jotted down her name and address and the next day wrote her a letter telling her how much I enjoyed having her in the group, and that her mail art skills had really inspired me. She is a lawyer who lives in San Francisco. Fast forward 7 months, we exchange 3-4 letters per month and have ignited in each other new creative paths of making cool mail, generally enjoying each other and opening ourselves up to new things. She’s got me really interested in camping!
I was recently prepping for the arrival of a hurricane that turned into a tropical storm and as I waited to get money at the ATM machine, I had the thought that I didn’t need to get too much money because I could always get some from my Dad. As the day went on, I kept thinking about all the things my Dad could help me with if the storm hit. That got me thinking how lucky I was to have such an inspirational and uber-organized Dad. So last week I wrote him telling him all of that and at the end told him I got money anyway so I wouldn’t be hitting him up : ).
A few weeks ago I was putting together some recommendations for a friend who is traveling to LA and was going through a travel journal I made on a past trip there. I started to realize that all my trips to LA for the last 8 years have been AMAZING because of one person – Gwyneth Paltrow. I was an early GOOP adopter and used Gwyneth’s LA suggestions for restaurants, activities and shopping. Gwyneth gets a bad rap from a lot of people so I decided to send her a letter letting her know how she has shaped not only my trips but my entire life. I have seen her twice in real life (a story for another time) but don’t actually know her, and don’t expect a response. I don’t even know if she will read the letter but I hope she does, because she may get the letter on a day that she isn’t feeling so hot, and there is nothing better than finding out you unknowingly made someone’s life more magical.