The Power of Letter Writing to Nourish and Heal
Over the last 3.5 years we have spoken about the genesis of Of Note as a desire to slow down and engage mindfully with the world around us. We sought to take note of the ordinary and in doing so make it extraordinary. We recognized the power the handwritten word has to deepen relationships and set out to encourage that connection. In this moment we are finding ourselves returning to a part of our story that we have told a bit less openly, that of how our engagement with letter writing was, is, nourishing and healing.
I will speak for myself, Kate, and say that Of Note grew out of my need to heal from an exhausting job that stripped me of my essence. The work I was doing the first three years out of college was challenging, selfless, impactful, AND it caused me to lose myself along the way. I was sleep deprived, undernourished, and a shell of my former being. To some people, with whom I feel truly comfortable, I characterize the experience as traumatizing (now I am not a psychologist, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think there are likely aspects of trauma that I still need to work through).
A friend of mine from that period recently told me that she remembered seeing me for the first time after leaving that career path behind. The transformation, in her opinion, was unrecognizable. I was revived and HAPPY.
Of Note was part of my healing process. Letter writing provided me the space to slow down. It helped me create a routine that was separate from my work, separate from the digital space, and reserved for reflection. Each step of the letter writing process was intentional and thoughtful. I would hold the recipient in my mind as I selected the stationery that was just right for them, captured the sentiments I wanted to share exactly, or just felt good in my hands. I would carefully pick a location in my house free of distraction or a quieter corner in a coffee shop where I could be present. And then I would sit, sit with my thoughts about how my day was going, how I was feeling in that moment, what I appreciated, and what I wished were different. I would also sit with my thoughts of the recipient, my wonderings on how they were, my reflections on what we had shared recently, my musings on how I could make them feel loved and seen.
With this process I moved through my stress, my disappointment, and the anxiety around what would come next. Instead of holding these thoughts within, perhaps suppressing the feelings, I had an outlet for expressing them. I was able to see through the pain towards the good. The goodness of my kind and patient correspondence partners, the goodness of taking a pause to observe what was -- the way the light hit the sidewalk just right as the sun set, the way exchanging a smile with a stranger uplifted my mood, the way it felt to be a support for my partner once more.
In hindsight, I realize I was intuitively finding my way towards gratitude. Brene Brown recently said, “The people who can lean fully into joy, are the people who practice gratitude.”
It is this gratitude, this inkling towards happiness, that cultivated a hope within me of creating meaningful and mindful correspondence cards, cards that would encourage the same space for expressing, processing, supporting, nourishing, and healing that I had experienced.
Isabel and I are still in the beginning of this Of Note journey, but as we move through our third year we are reminding ourselves to share the vulnerable parts of our story.
Perhaps you can relate? Perhaps you need support? Perhaps you know someone who is in healing? Here are some tools to get you started, to keep you moving through your current journey, or to help you reach out:
A poem to ground you in what really matters.
A card to help you preserve moments.
Sincerely Yours in Healing,
Kate and Isabel