It’s Thoughtful Thursday! The Easy Way to Bring Joy to Yourself and Others

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter or note?  Bet it has been awhile.

I love receiving unexpected notes or letters .  Even if I know everything that is going on in that persons life  it is always good to see familiar handwriting in my mailbox.

You can bet it is the first thing I open.

Why is it so special?  I can only speak for myself but I always feel a little extra love  when someone takes the time and makes the effort to write a real note, find a stamp and get it in the mail.

It is the personal touch that means so much.

When I find letters from my grandmother in her very distinctive handwriting it is like having her here next to me.  At some point in time she touched the paper and wrote those words.  It will never be like having her physically here  but it is something I can touch and hold.  Just seeing it makes me smile.

Thoughtful Thursday started with the intention of writing real letters.  I have fallen down on the job lately so I am jumping back in and committing to sending more letters via the post office.

Just like painting it has a soothing, relaxing effect on me.  Watching and feeling the pen glide across the paper and taking the time to think of what I really want to say makes me slow down and be in the moment.

While you may think e-mails are forever, maybe not.  A handwritten letter has a life of its own.  At least it feels that way.  And opening up an older one feels like a treasure found and a bit of the past come to life.  I have all the letters my husband wrote to me while he was on Navy deployments and while we were dating.  I have a box of love letters between my parents and handwritten notes and recipes from my grandmother.  They are a bit of my personal history.

I also have letters my grandfather typed.  He even managed to find a typewriter  and write one while vacationing in Europe in 1964.  I imagine they had business centers back then as well but instead of computers they had  typewriters.

Honestly it is not cheating if you don’t like your handwriting and you want to type it but always remember to add a handwritten P.S. and your own signature 🙂

I will type some of my letters but my way of typing is definitely old school.   🙂  A throwback to my grandfather 🙂

Love this script typewriter

Yes I have a fascination with typewriters.  I make mistakes, I x them out.  It is so fun.  And I get lots of reaction from the recipients.  The added bonus is there a real satisfaction at pounding on the keys.  Not sure why but just the extra force needed feels like I am accomplishing something.

Here is the other cool thing about mailed letters:

Letting go of the immediate reply

I am never sure if it arrived or when it did and I never  expect a handwritten response.  Of course I would love one but that is not why I do it. I do it for the connection, and mostly just for the pleasure of imagining the smile on someones face when they open their mailbox to find something besides the ordinary bills or advertisements.

Ok..there is the possibility the person won’t smile..but I’m guessing they will.  And guess what?  I may never know and thats ok.

I send it off and hope it does its’ job to bring a little joy to a someone special.  Give it a try..it does a heart good.

Now as always..go out and make it a Thoughtful One.

Jennifer

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday…thankful for the mess

In the last four years you have read about my monumental task of cleaning out my parents house after my Dad died unexpectedly.  At the same time we also had to move my mother into Assisted Living.  Honestly much of that time is a blur in my memory.

I am still dealing with some of the aftermath.  Well a lot of it.  My parents didn’t throw out much.  The moment that is seared into my memory is opening a box and finding throw pillows from  the couch we had when I was five.  If it hadn’t been 10am I would have started drinking and Kahlua in my coffee does not count.  Well maybe it does.

In any case I am currently going through all the boxes of photos and memorabilia we dumped in my office after the final clean out.  I had to take a break after we finished.  Going through boxes is the most mind numbing experience.  I’d rather go to the dentist or take algebra again..and fail it ..again.

Lately though I have been thankful for the “classy hoarding” my parents did.  “Classy Hoarding” is a phrase I coined to refer to a house that looks put together but has closets and a basement just plain stuffed!  If the house could have groaned and let out its’ seams it would have done it!

So why am I thankful?  I am thankful because I am finding so many unbelievable treasures .  Treasures only to me and my family but still they are priceless.

Among other things I have found a letter written to my mother from  grateful parents whose young son died.  They wrote eloquently about how much they appreciated her kind and loving ways towards their 12 year old son as he passed away from cardiac problems.  My mother could not fill in the details ( unfortunately) but it was during her last weeks of nursing school.  The only thing she could say about it was that it was very sad.

I found humorous photos of my Mom and Dad in their youth.  As a child you never envision your parents as being wild and while this was the mild side of wild it was fun to see. It was  long before they were worried about what anyone would think and I found it refreshing.  I wish I could ask both of them about this time in their lives but one is in heaven and one is sadly in the throes of dementia.

I found letters written by them as a young engaged couple in love.  And then there is a lovely letter from the father of my mothers’ best friend extolling her virtues to her new in laws who did not approve of the marriage.  My grandparents thought my father could do better . Then my parents eloped and that didn’t help. They did recant those feelings many times over and became  Moms’ biggest fans.

In that same letter Ted Holtzinger painted a picture of my Moms’ tireless efforts on the pediatric polio ward before there was a vaccine.  Also as you read this please know that at 5 feet tall and 80 lbs my Mom was not much bigger than her patients.

           Ted wrote:

        I wish I could tell you of her heroic efforts on behalf of the littlest victims of this city’s worst polio epidemic.  She worked around the clock for what must have seemed like endless days trying to save those who were most seriously afflicted from death or from a life sentence to the worst phases of crippling that makes polio such a dreaded scourge.

     I saw her there one night when the epidemic was at it s height., her hands and arms reddened to the elbow form the hot packs that she was administering to the sufferers of this worst form of polio, I watched her wince as she lifted hot pack after hot pack from the scalding water and I said a silent prayer of thanks for women like Betty who could forget self in service to others so grievously afflicted and yet so needful of  her administrations.

My mother never told us about any of this.  I am so thankful this letter and others like exist and were saved so that I may have a glimpse of my mother before I knew her.

By the way I also have the response my grandfather sent many years later and it was eloquent as well.  Not sure why he waited so long but grateful I have the two letters to go side by side.

So on this Thoughtful Thursday what is my point about all these treasures?  Can you guess?

Write a real letter.  A real one.  Not a text or an email…a real honest to goodness letter.  Make a copy and save it.  Who should you write it to?  That is for you to decide but in this day and age of digital it is refreshing to hold a letter that can be read over and over again without turning anything on.

Tell someone what they mean to you, write down memories of fun times , special life events and anything that has become family lore. If you see someone like my Mom doing something so very special let them know you noticed.

I know it is all the rage to be minimalistic and to get rid of everything that isn’t nailed down.  I get it.  And all that is found will be digitized in case the originals are lost.  In the meantime it is a joy to hold a letter once written by a friend, a grandparent, my Mom, my Dad.  They once held that piece of paper.  The connection is real.

So thank you Mom and Dad…it has been hard but the rewards are bountiful.  I am so happy you saved this part of our history.

Now as always, go make it a Thoughtful One..and if you are so honored go hug your Mom and Dad !                                                                     Jennifer

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! This gift is always “enough” !

It’s September 1st and while others are mourning the loss of summer I am relishing that things will get back to a regular rhythm. The kids are back in school  (or in my case the grandkids), there will be some really gorgeous fall days and crisp mornings and I, for one, am ready for the change of seasons.

Our family will kick off the fall by celebrating my Dad’s 90th birthday.  I cherish this time I have with my parents and know that each day is a gift.  Except for some hearing issues and forgetfulness my parents are doing well.  The internet and “the facebook” baffle my Mom.  My Dad does know how to send an email or play solitaire on his computer.  Downloads confuse him but then they sometimes hang me up as well.

My Dad requested no gifts for his birthday.  He just wants to be around family.  I actually had to convince him that a family gathering would be nice ( he didn’t want a party).  In the end it was a matter of semantics as we are having a party but not using the “p” word.

Despite my mothers confusion about computers she is aware of Amazon and will ask me to order things.  Recently it was a gift for a friend who is turning 90.  My mother was concerned it wasn’t “enough” of a gift.

We have all been down that road before.

I really dislike the notion of any gift not being “enough”. Who decides what is enough?  My parents are actually pain relief going to the party which in my mind is gift enough but my mother would not let it go.

Finally I came up with the perfect addition to the gift.  Feel free to steal this and use this as we approach the holidays.  It is definitely the quintessential one size fits all and will be universally loved by all who receive it.

I told my Mom to write Sylvia a note and include all the special memories they have shared and why her friendship and connection through these many years has meant so much.

It is one thing to know this.  It is one thing to verbalize it.  Having it written down adds a new dimension.  It can be read, and reread, held close to the heart and touched.  Running a hand over a written note can be soothing and a connection can be felt to the words and the time and sentiment that went in to writing the words on paper.

A handwritten note is a gift that fills the heart. It can be read, and reread, held close to the heart and touched. It's connecting your heart to theirs with words. Click To Tweet

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I’m pretty sure something like this can’t be bought at Amazon…or at any store.

Not to spoil the surprise but I know what I want to give and receive as a gift these coming months..and it is more than enough!

Now you know what to do…go out and make it a Thoughtful one!!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Look up for some awesomeness!!

I have done a lot of traveling in my lifetime.  Often not very exciting places but between being a military wife and business I have been in lots of different locations  and in quite a few airports.

Lots of changes have happened especially over the last few years.  Gone are the banks of payphones and in their place are “charging zones” for our various electronic devices.  People still bury their heads in books or e-readers.

The nosy person in me loves it when people bring real books.  I love to see what people are reading!!

And for those of you who are curious ( aka nosy, lol) about what I have been reading, here you go:

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The other thing people bury themselves in are their phones.  Row after row of people with their heads down, totally oblivious to the people around them.  I have even spent a whole flight sitting next to someone who never even said “hi”.

I am here to tell you that you are missing out on a whole lot of awesomeness.

When we traveled to Italy two years ago I learned quickly to always look up.  The ceilings in the historic and non historic places always had a story to tell of craftsmanship, beauty and brilliance.  It started to be the first thing I did when we entered a building.  I was never disappointed.

Sometimes I saw incredible artwork:

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So Gorgeous!!!

 

And sometimes we were entertained by a lively conversation complete with hand gestures!!

Wish I knew what they were saying!

Wish I knew what they were saying!

Being in Italy and knowing that if I failed to look up I would miss out on so much instilled the habit of looking up and all around everywhere I am, especially in crowded places like airports and coffee shops.

That one simple habit has filled my heart more than once.

Just last adhd month I was waiting to board my flight and saw an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair parked at the gate agents podium.

He was all alone.

It is almost always easy to start a conversation with an older person.  They love to talk.  This gentleman made it easy because he was wearing a Marine Corps Hat.  A quick “Semper Fi” and we were off and running.

His name was Marvin, he has five kids, told me all about his military service, his farm, his deceased wife, and the fact that he just turned 90!!  I told him both my parents turn 90 in the next 6 months.  He smiled and told me not to tell them but the truth was ( his words) “Its all downhill once you turn 90”  He said it with a smile and I promised not to tell.

He was a delight and far more entertaining than my phone and certainly enriched and touched me in ways the internet never could or will.  My only regret is we didn’t get a photo together.

Other past encounters include a woman dressed to the nines with most impressive jewelry.  She was a blind pianist. I also met a guitarist from the group “White Snake”, a delightful artist from Florida, a retiree with a broken leg moving to Chicago, an inspirational speaker who had a good experience as a foster kid and was paying it forward as a speaker and advocate for foster children!

As much as I love getting a handwritten letter the other part  of this  is interacting with the people around us.  You just never know who you will meet, how you will touch their lives in that moment or maybe forever or how they will touch yours.

Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One and remember to Look Up!!

 

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Awaken Your Heart :)

I had no idea until just a few minutes ago what I would be writing about today for Thoughtful Thursday.  I started looking through my pile of “to read” that was surrounding me in my little morning nest of books,  journals and just random pieces of paper ( yes this drives my very orderly husband nuts) when the end of this yoga article by Anne Cushman spoke to me:

“And when your hearts awaken, even small gestures can have an immense effect.”candle-386607_1280

As we end November in which we focus on gratitude and immerse ourselves into the often times crazy holiday season I hope we can remember the small gestures we can do for others and even for ourselves.  

What awakens your heart?  What small gesture can bring a smile to your face and a sense of peace?

When I am out and about I look for those little things. Holding the door open for a Mom with little ones or anyone else who seems to need it, thanking  the cashier, complimenting someone on their beautiful sweater or great smile. I am also known for gathering up all the errant shopping carts that are left around the parking lot.  I make up stories about how these people were having a rushed or bad day and just couldn’t get the cart put away ( that may not be true but it keeps me from being negative).

When I am home and grousing about the little things that seem big at the moment ( the endless amount of dog hair, the papers that seem to pile up and breed overnight, the internet that lately only works when it wants to) I try and center myself and remind myself that these are all little things.  If I can’t move forward, if I am really stuck there are couple of things I can try to awaken my heart.

One is journaling.  There is just something about putting it on paper that gives me perspective.  

The other one that always works  for me when I am home is to turn on Netflix and tune into the British show “Call the Midwife”.  Even if I just have it on in the background, the music and the sense of peace around that show settles me down and helps me get back into my heart.  It might not be your preference but this show is all about kindness, love and helping women who are often times living in really dire circumstances and yet the midwives and nuns focus just on the person and love them right where they are.

These are just two of my own personal examples. I have way more and I’m sure you do as well.  If not, have a quiet moment today and find something that calms you and awakens your heart.  It’s good to have it in your “tool” box for those times when things get a bit crazy.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

One word can give comfort and confidence, destroy doubt, help someone avoid a mistake, reconcile a conflict or open the door to liberation. One action can save a person’s life or help him take advantage of a rare opportunity.With compassion in our heart, every thought, every word and deed can bring about a miracle.

Have fun awakening your heart and as always …Go make it a Thoughtful One!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday: Remember these two words…

Do you remember when the letters of the alphabet finally made sense?  When you finally realized that if you put those letters in a certain order they actually made words.  Words that you could read?

It’s a powerful moment.

That moment came to me in first grade and the word was “Jump” !  I often wondered why I remembered this moment so clearly and even what the word was and the excitement I felt that this reading thing, these letters, that word finally made sense.S059QDGBOG

So  many years later I realize that making that leap from just letters, to words, to reading opened up an entire new world to me.  It’s like an exciting trip I’ve been on that never ends.

Even if you don’t like to read or write, words will excite you in other ways.  What new parent doesn’t get excited over their child’s first word?  Just recently my grandson started saying “Grandma”.  Up until that moment, for some reason, he called me “Grandpa” 🙂 It may seem like a little thing but when I walked in and he said “Hi Grandma” my heart sang.

This morning as I was scrolling through my mail I ran across a piece of art by Kelly Rae Roberts.

It simply said these two words:

LOVE WIDE

It stopped me in my tracks.  It said to me we can love in all directions.  We can really love wide with all our words.  Make them big, make them simple but spread them widely to your friends, family and strangers.  Spread them via snail mail,  texts, or emails.  Leave them on post it notes for people to find on windshields, in desks, in pockets, on steering wheels, in lunches, on coffee cups.notebook_pen_hires

 

Better yet leave them for strangers to find.  Imagine finding a note under your windshield wiper that said “you matter” or “you are loved”.  Those could be the only kind words that person encounters today.

Those words, that small gesture won’t be forgotten.

So this Thoughtful Thursday love widely with your words however you choose to do it.  I’ll bet the thought of  this just made you smile!

As always, go out and  make it a Thoughtful One!

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Are you really being grateful?

I love November.  I love Thanksgiving!  I also love that people focus on gratitude intensely this month.

The “attitude of gratitude” is rampant and that’s a problem.  It sounds nice, it has good intentions but often that is where it stops.  I never even thought about it until I heard author and social worker Brene Brown speak about yoga.

She said she loves everything about yoga:

  • the mindfulness
  • the peace it brings people
  • the comfy clothes
  • the music

She loves it and thinks it is awesome and has tons of yoga clothes that she loves but then she said …..

She has never done yoga.

Not even once.  Never on the mat.  No downward dog.

She had an “attitude of yoga” but not a “practice of yoga”.

Makes sense, right?  We can have all the “tudes” we want but until we get out there and actually do it, it remains an attitude with no action.

Every time I post about Thougthful Thursday I always end it with “Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One”!

And today I will challenge you to take your “attitude of gratitude” and make it a “practice of gratitude”

What does that look like?  It will probably be different for everyone but it can be as simple as saying “thank-you” for something somebody does for you everyday but never gets noticed … as in thanking your spouse for remembering to put the garbage out or always changing light bulbs.

It wasn’t until I was almost in the dark after Paul had been gone for awhile that I realized he ALWAYS replaced the burnt out light bulbs.  I thank him when he is home for doing the “Bub” patrol as we call it!!

A speaker that I know, Connie Podesta, put this saying on her facebook page and I stole it ( the saying not the photo) and I also adopted it into my daily gratitude practice.  It doesn’t get any simpler than this:Image-1

So today and for the rest of the month ( and hopefully forever) have a “practice” of gratitude.  It will do your heart good.

Now go out and make it a “Thoughtful One” !  I KNOW you will!

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Are you guilty of this bad social media habit?

Social media has led me  to  develop some bad habits.  Shocking I know.  Let me just add those to the list of my less than desirable habits that even annoy me.  The top of that list is forgetting to close cupboard doors  (or any door for that matter).  I have been painfully reminded of this many times when I have banged my head into the open cupboard door.  My friends would say that explains alot 🙂

As far as social media goes I often fall into that mistaken belief that everyone I know and care about has seen my updates or photos.  This is especially true of big events ( weddings,baptisms, birthdays)

I KNOW lots of my family and friends are not on social media and yet I still forget.

If you are thinking “Well these friends and family just need to get with the times and jump onto social media”, remember that for some ( especially older relatives like my parents) it is just not going to happen.

AND social media is a poor substitute for a REAL phone call, a REAL piece of mail and a REAL printed up photo.

So here is where it gets really cool.  You can use social media to send a real printed photo postcard. Honestly I just discovered this so I am going to experiment with the different apps to see which ones I really like and in a week or two will share this with you.

One  app that I know is great is Kicksend.  It will send photos from your phone to a local place to be printed up and then you can just pick them up.  I have a couple of friends who use this on a regular basis after having their photos lost on their phones.  There is nothing worse than realizing you just deleted a photo you loved or your favorite two year old got your phone and cleared it for you.

Toddlers are pretty tech savvy these days.  Remember the 3 yr old who bought a car off of Ebay?

Watch this! And poof everything disappears!

Watch this! And poof everything disappears!

So if today is not the day to send a photo then  pick up the phone.  Let someone you love know you are thinking about them. If someone keeps popping into my thoughts I KNOW I need to talk to them.

The whole purpose of Thoughtful Thursday is to make it a day to remind you to connect with someone.

Now go make it a Thoughtful One!  And if you find an app you like please share!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday..an easy way to make a difference


Take a minute and think about someone who made a difference in your life.

Chances are you just smiled.

You remember how happy it made you, how it changed you or how loved you felt that they took the time to do something for you.

Was it a huge thing like Oprah did when she gave away those cars?  Or was it something on a smaller scale?  It might have even been something they did without  realizing they made an amazing impact on your life.

While we would all like to have the ability to do really BIG things most of us can’t give away cars or houses or fancy vacations.

If you go back to the first question and remember what first popped into your thoughts it probably wasn’t something big.  It was probably something much smaller and doable and yet it was still HUGE to you.

This past Monday I had my day all planned and it was going to be so productive.  I got up early, I ran, I cleaned up and I sat down to work.  My computer had different ideas about my day.  I spent all day Monday, some of Tuesday and will spend a little bit of today getting this one issue,that could not be ignored,fixed on my computer.

Monday was NOT a good day.  Fortunately I did not also have to suffer through “crunchy coffee”.  If you missed out on that adventure go here.

So after some mind bending hours in front of this blasted machine I took the dog out since his little dance could not be ignored . I got the mail and my day turned around when I found these:

 

Letters for Thoughtful Thursday

 

Neither one of these friends could have possibly known what kind of day I would have when their note arrived.  I tore into them, read them several times and now they sit on my desk and make me smile.

They made a difference by taking a few minutes to write me a note.  It wasn’t a car or a house or a vacation but it might as well have been because that is how huge it felt to me on Monday.

Want to make a difference?  Make a list ( either written or in your noggin) about all the ways you can turn someones’ day around.  A smile, a note, holding the door open, a compliment, a post it note on the steering wheel or someones’ desk.  A lunchbox note for someone who might never expect it.

FYI we never grow too old for lunchbox notes.

Watch it come back to you in so many great ways including just making you smile when you think of the person finding the note, seeing your smile or savoring your compliment.

Now you know the drill.  Go out and make it a Thoughtful One!! 🙂

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Living Single while Very Married: Hellos and Goodbyes

One of themes throughout our relationship has been the many hellos and goodbyes !  I can best sum them up with this thought I posted on facebook when saying goodbye yet again:

The hellos get sweeter and the goodbyes get harder…

   Our first true goodbye after we were engaged  is still as fresh as when it happened on July 5, 1978 .  We knew it would be several months before we saw each other again.  I remember the date not because I have such a great memory but because when I went back inside the house after seeing Paul off I found this written in my “Nothing Book”.  What he wrote was really something!photo (20)

.…”goodbyes, however temporary are often painful…the months ahead will be rough but nothing in this world comes easy, especially the items we treasure most….

And so began a series of Hellos and Good-byes…Navy Deployments etc.  Most hellos were fabulous..the goodbyes not so much.  Out of it we learned to treasure our time together, trust decisions that needed to be made and made the most of what communication methods we had at the time which mostly consisted of the good old fashioned letter.

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There was one deployment where the only way to communicate besides letters and the rare phone call was over some sort of radio frequency that came over the phone.  I remember how strange it was to say “I love you” “Over” but I hung on to it.  Plus Paul sounded just like Mickey Mouse.  When he finally called on an actual phone about 2 months later and I heard his real voice I cried.

And with goodbyes come some really sweet hellos.  I am fortunate to have a photo of one of the sweetest hellos we ever had.   February, 1984, Barbers Point, Hawaii  Our oldest was almost three, I was very pregnant with our second as in about 10 days away from having her.  The photo says it all:

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That is a little of our story of hellos and goodbyes.  I would like to say we were well prepared for our present adventure but there have been adventures inside the adventure.  Most have been pretty funny ( so thankful for that) others not so much but holy cow have we learned a lot.

I’ll end with some wisdom from Winnie the Pooh.  For a bear he sure has a way with words!  pooh goodbye quote

Be on the look out for my next post as we start this new adventure with the quintessential ROAD TRIP!! Woohoo!

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