Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Long Live Snail Mail

I have a motto that I live by. It remains true no matter what.
Always learning; forever growing
For me (perhaps it's that I am a Gemini) I find that there is always something else to explore and tangents to go off on and try, discover, be inspired by or close that particular door as it's not for me. Some people may call me "flighty", or "inconsistent", while I prefer to say "evolving" and "being Lissa".  

Being Lissa. What does that mean? Who is Lissa? Your guess is as good as mine. Who are any of us? 

I began 2016 on a mission of sorts. Hmm, well, not really a mission, rather, exercising a bit more of a sense of purpose I suppose.  I was feeling a bit lost, uninspired and dare I say it, bored! I read about and began making a conscientious effort in finding and maintaining Peace, especially at home. This has since developed (hardly surprising) and evolved too, growing to encompass happiness, simplicity and above all, purpose.  This is all coming at a time when big decisions have been made (have put my notice in at work) and cogs of change are turning (identified what is working and not). All going well, life should be more peaceful and balanced rather than disappearing at a rate of knots into a wasted void of wishful thinking and vanilla monotony.

In my quest for peace, I have been reading. Oh yes, reading - books,(real proper paper books not just the internet). I've read more in the past 2.5 months than I have in the past year, and I read a lot of books. (I love books). I've been trying to expand on current interests and cutting out what no longer feels right. For example, I have been taking and sharing more photos on Instagram, but have deleted my Blog Facebook account.  I have a pile of new books checked out the library to join the ones that I have already at home still to read and collating a pile of others to read once I've worked my way through the current lot (starting with  Simone De Beauvoir's The Second Sex).

One of the books I read recently was a New York Best Seller called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I figured it would be along the lines of A Year Living Danishly by Helen Russell; set out spanning 1 year from January with a different focus for each month. And that is exactly the format of the book, except that it failed to hold my attention the way that Russell's did. I had given up on the book by June. I just couldn't read any more.  Whilst it had a fair few nuggets of wisdom that I have taken note of, there was simply too much "I tried this and it was wonderful" for my taste.

A piece of advice that I came across quite recently was to think about what I loved doing as a child/teenager and try and incorporate that, or an element of it, into life today. The purpose being for no other reason than joy. Not for money or career, for recognition, for other people, but something for pure enjoyment and making oneself happy. We have to take time out of our busy schedules to appreciate what beauty and wonder there is in life. Slow down, and enjoy the moment. Now, slowing down is not necessarily something I need "to do" but "enjoying the moment" more has a certain appeal.   When I think back to my childhood, something that I did for years and gave me so much pleasure, was writing - I had penpals. Lots of penpals!

Back in the days way before internet or mobile phones, kids the world over used to 'connect' via a penpal network. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called, but I filled in the form, sent it off and waited. I remember receiving a bunch of tickets for people who's interests matched mine and selected the ones I would write to. I had pen pals in the US and Australia (Danielle in Pennsylvania and Meg in Tasmania were 2 that I wrote to for years).  When Teletext was still a thing, my friend and I used to search their penpals pages, we wrote our own message ad for penpals and ended up writing regularly with Sarah, Tracey and Nicole from different parts of England.  My first penpal was my Aunt (who was actually my Dad's Aunt) who lived in Liverpool. I wrote to her from when I was 6 years old until I was an adult (sadly she is no longer with us, but her letters are).  People met on holiday usually ended up being penpals for a wee while too. I did have one penpal from France with whom I only ever exchanged 1 letter. I wrote to her in my best French, and got a letter back asking me to write in English...I didn't write back...

This was a hobby I LOVED. The anticipation of the letters, the excitement of opening a new letter and then writing my own replies, and the cycle repeated.  I have no idea where all my old letters went (probably got chucked out when moving house) and that saddens me as someone took the time to write and converse with me, sharing their stories and news.

In today's world of texts and emails, the art of writing and pen(wo)manship is being lost. A handwritten letter is so much more personal (if less convenient) than an email or quick text. But speed is the essence of communication in the 21st century. As someone who has (a well documented) love/hate relationship with digital communication, I am all for bringing back letters. Long live snail mail!

So this is my new thing : letter writing. It allows for peace, time with thoughts, being creative (with words/handwriting/decorating the paper/envelope), connecting with others, it's fun, personal and has a purpose. All things I love rolled into one. It's also excitement for the delivery of post that's not bills or naff menus. It's friendship old and new (or in somecases, renewed).  It's also something I will encourage Kiddo to do as he grows (easier to encourage him to do something if he sees me doing the same).

Now I'm off to check my address book is up to date, birthday dates are up to date and get started.