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! What I learned from Betty’s weekly hair appointment!

One of my earliest memories is my Dad making dinner for us on Friday nights.  He only cooked on Fridays because that was when Mom was at the hairdresser for her weekly appointment.  I probably remember those dinners so well because Dad only cooked two things:

Scrambled eggs or Tuna glop.

I believe the ” Tuna Glop” consisted of a can of tuna mixed with cream of celery soup served over cornbread.  It’s about as appealing as it sounds.

Some Fridays we made out if Mom cooked ahead of time and had it ready so the only thing Dad had to do was serve it.  Back then I really didn’t get why Mom had to have this weekly outing.  Now many years later I understand it was probably her only time away from us kids and the house.  It was her girlfriend time.  I’m sure there was a 1960’s Steel Magnolias thing going on at the shop and not only did the new “do” make her feel better but I’m sure the time away with other women did as well.

I remember going with her on a couple of occasions when her appointment was not on a Friday evening and I always thought it was strange to see the women in their curlers under those big bulbous hairdryers sleeping.  My 6 or 7 year old self couldn’t understand why anyone would want to nap under a hairdryer.  Why would anyone voluntarily take a nap?  Of course I get it now and it seems like the perfect plan and the roots of multi-tasking: new hair do, girlfriend time and a little nap..the perfect trifecta..add in some wine and it would be amazing.

So fast forward a couple of decades and a change of location. My siblings and I are  grown but the one thing we know for sure is that you don’t mess with Betty’s hair appointment.  A tornado, hurricane or the apocalypse would be coming and you could be sure Betty would some how, some way make it to her hair appointment.

I still didn’t get this ( much like I didn’t get the napping earlier).  I mean what happens if a hair appointment got skipped?   I knew what would happen!  Mom would be unhappy and  my family knows “If Betty ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.”

A couple of years ago my Dad started chauffeuring  Mom to her hair appointments.  He would regale the hairdressers with his latest jokes or stories, ask about their families, settle himself in with his newspaper and visit with those who were waiting their turns. My father was the original social butterfly..he truly loved to chat and have good conversations.  The shop in turn loved my Dad.

I started to “get” why this shop was so special when the week of his 90th birthday they honored Dad with a surprise cake, candles, cards and treated him to a  shampoo and blow dry with what little hair he had left.  He was thrilled and touched.  I heard all about it from Mom. She went on and on about how Bonnie and Joy and everyone else there had fun celebrating Dad.

When Dad unexpectedly passed away in March I took Mom for her hair appointment.  Now I really got it.  For one the shop is as nice as it could be. Not large but just so warm and lovely.  Bonnie and Joy talked with me, told me how they loved my Dad, how they made sure he had his favorite cookies, his favorite red cup and how he was intrigued by the Keurig coffee maker and loved the hazelnut coffee which they, of course, made sure was there for him.

Their concern for my Mom as nothing short of amazing.  As we left they handed us an abundance of food, their phone numbers, email addresses ..just about everything except one of their sinks.

And now some 4 months later I don’t like to miss the appointment with my Mom.  It is a community of love and support.  They even washed and blew dry my hair as a treat for being there for my Mom.  It IS Steel Magnolias.   I so get it!!  Its not just the hair do..it’s an infusion of joy and love and I am ever so grateful to them.  Here’s to the crew at Side Street Salon in Springfield, VA….Joy, Bonnie, Rosario, Sara and Natalie and everyone else who brightens Thursdays for us. Yes her appointment is always on a Thursday..so perfect!  A living Thoughtful Thursday if I ever saw one.

Now go out and make it a Thoughtful one for you and someone else!

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A little crazy yes but this “new” writing tool is awesome!

Before you think I have totally lost it read the whole post and then you will “get it”!

So one of the things my husband and I love to do is go to auctions.  Sometimes we buy stuff sometimes we don’t but it’s usually a good time and we see some interesting things.  I go mostly to keep Paul from buying something just because it’s a “good deal”, as in” Um no we do not need that Krispy Kreme Donut Cart”!   Novelty yes, useful no.  That’s one of many examples that come to mind.  Plus we still have my parents’ house to unload and that pretty much kills our desire to want to add anything new to our possession collection

We needed a break  one week-end  from house stuff, paperwork..pretty much life in general so we went to an auction/estate sale. Of course we picked the hottest Saturday of the year and it was an outside auction.

How this guy got all this stuff into his little house is beyond me.  So much stuff.  Made my parents’ basement look like just a few things ( trust me it’s not).  Most of it was collectible toys, Nascar stuff..nothing that would much interest me so I started to wander around the yard ( 4 outbuildings with stuff and more items in the yard).  I tell you it was like a scene from American Pickers..they would have loved it.

No kitchen sink but a bathtub!

So amidst the rusted bathtubs, old bikes and such was a pristine, almost new in box Olympia Portable Typewriter  It was just sitting in the grass being totally ignored.  So I kept walking by it, intrigued.  It had me at first glance!

My husband couldn’t believe I wanted to bid on it.  He thought I was crazy …  yup thats me!  So just for grins I took it up to be auctioned off and got it for a whopping sum of $10.

As we are lugging it back to the car ( that sucker is heavy) I wondered what I had done but when I got it home I made some interesting discoveries.

Surprisingly the ribbon was still good.  I doubt this guy ever opened the case.  More importantly I was having fun with it.  Yes it took longer than  a laptop and there was no way to correct mistakes but guess what?  The only thing I can do on that thing is write.  There was no urge to check facebook, or email or shop at Amazon.  No looking up facts or photos I could use.  It was the perfect no distraction writing tool.

A manual typerwriter is the perfect no distraction writing tool! https://www.seejenntri.com/a-little-crazy-y…-tool-is-awesome-2407 #writing #no distractions Click To Tweet

It does have two problems.  One it’s incredible noisy.  I think this is why writers found it better to be alone in some secluded room or at a cabin in the mountains.  I really could not write into the night without keeping everyone awake.  And though it claims to be a “portable” typewriter in reality it’s not.

I entertained myself with the thought of lugging it into Starbucks and writing on it.  They would probably throw me out.  Perfect Seinfeld episode where Kramer tells everyone typewriters are making a comeback and pretty soon all the coffee shops are filled with typewriters driving everyone else crazy.  Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

The other positive is it makes me think about all the writers before me who only had this to write on..kinda cool.  Think about all the war correspondents who lugged something like this around.  Good exercise for sure.

Yes anything I write on it will eventually have to be put on the computer but there is no danger of me accidentally deleting it, and no dependency on the internet or electricity.  Seriously though everything anyone writes goes through several rewrites anyways so what’s the big deal?

I won’t write everything on it and I certainly won’t be lugging it on an airplane but for now I am having fun and enjoying the distraction free writing.  Probably the best 10 bucks I have spent in a long time.

Oh and my husband still thinks I’m crazy…good thing he loves crazy!  🙂

 

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So what do I do??

I imagined this scene the other day where I was at a dinner party and someone asked me ” So what do you do?”

In my somewhat twisted mind that is a bit of a loaded question. I could answer everything from “well I walk my dog everyday”  to “I’m a nurse” to  ( if I really feel like being a smart ass)  “I “do” lots of things like sleep, eat, drink, laundry, dishes……”  Yet I know in reality and in my imagined scene they were asking what I do for work and I reply “I am a writer”and this person says:

“Oh really?  And would I be familiar with any of your works?”  “What have you written?” Not that ANY of my friends talk like that and it was recently suggested to me that if they do I need to get new friends but lets move on.

Of course they are expecting me to name a book  they can find on Amazon or in their local Barnes & Noble, or a magazine article or some newspaper byline  but in reality my answer would be ( again with a touch of smart ass)  ” Well lets see I’ve written tons of grocery and to-do lists, papers for school, permission slips for kids and nurses notes but I doubt you would find any of those on Amazon

“Oh and I blog.”

Finally a somewhat plausible answer to that question. In reality the real answer is “I am a writer other because I write.” I write for pleasure, for the joy of it,for personal soothing,as a release and because I love creating sentences out of words. Just because you can’t find me in Barnes & Noble doesn’t mean I am not a writer. I am a writer because I write. End of story….pun intended just so I can entertain myself!

It is the same with running (or whatever you favorite activity is). I am a runner because I run. When people ask me about a race as in “How did you do”  I use to think they were asking for my race results and I would hesitate and stumble over my answer and the words “slow” and “not very good” often punctuated the sentences I managed to form.

I quit doing that awhile back when I realized that my finishing time did NOT matter. What mattered was I did the race or the daily run and I was out there running. So the answer I always give now to “How was the race?” is “It was great! ” “I had a blast and I’m so glad I did it!” Sometimes people will clarify their question. “No I mean what was your finishing time?” And I say truthfully “I have no idea!” “I started, I finished and I had fun!” If they keep talking I keep walking!

So claim your answer to whatever it is you do! If you bike you are a cyclist, if you write you are a writer. Whatever it is you do that brings you joy please claim it. Click To Tweet

Do fill your paper with the “breathings of your heart” or your belly if it is a grocery list..or fill the air with your beautiful music, or your soul with poetry…as Nike says “Just do it”

And don’t forget to have fun while you are doing it and above all else you have my permission to channel your inner smart ass when answering that question “What do you do?”

Now go out and tri!

 

 

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