The Letter Writing Revolution

Revitalizing a Lost Art One Letter at a Time

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The End Result

It's already Wednesday and I am just getting to my blog for the first time this week. Aside from being a new blogger, I am also a mother of a child with special needs (which brings with it a whole lot of extras besides the usual mothering tasks), a wife (which is fairly enjoyable since I married a great man), a casting artist (check out and I am self-employed ( I have a lot on my plate right now with an upcoming art exhibit in Ottawa in late July plus all of my usual busy-ness. I have ten casts in my studio needing my attention, a self-published book to finish and have ready within three weeks and very little time to accomplish all that I have set out to do. One thing I know about myself is that I will manage to pull it all off, I think.........

Today, I wanted to share the photo above that was sent to me by a mother in southern Ontario. Remember the post I did of the youngest member of The Letter Writing Revolution? Well, that letter that he dropped in the mailbox (in the photo from that day's post) arrived to this little guy above and his mom took this photo to illustrate the joy he had in receiving this letter. I LOVE this photo. This kid looks like he just got the best present in the world! I love the letter itself with the printing of a child. I can just imagine how much time and effort went into hand writing the letter. Bless the mother that sat with him and spelled out the words he had trouble with and helped him along from the beginning to the end of the process of writing a letter.

I have a few letters to write and I hope to take time each evening away from my work to do just that. I hope the ones I have sent out have been received. Keep your eye on your mailbox, you may just get one from me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yeh!! Mail

Yeh!! A bright, yellow envelope in my mail box. That can mean only one thing........
An unexpected letter from a woman who was a former client of mine seven years ago and who became a friend. How exciting that she was inspired to go out and buy this canary yellow stationary and write ME a letter. She even shared an incredible poem that she wrote. I was touched by the words and honoured that she shared it with me.

It's Friday and so I likely won't post again until Monday. I have letters to write as promised and plan to get caught up this evening. There are two letters on their way to Inkerman to two special girls who have finished their school year successfully and a couple of small notes going out to a new mama who could use some encouragement and a card to a friend just because.......

A mother of four told me that she was inspired by The Letter Writing Revolution to hand write letters to two of her children's teachers to let them know how important they are and how blessed they are to have hardworking dedicated teachers involved with their children's day-to-day life. I really like this idea.......if you didn't get around to it for the last day of school, I am sure your child's teacher will appreciate a letter at the beginning of the school year.

Another mom commented that she received news of this blog while visiting a sick friend across the country. She decided to write a postcard to her 22 month old daughter who she had to seperate from for the first time. She plans to continue to write letters from home to be mailed and received by her little one. I like this idea. There will be nothing valued more in years from now when this little girl is a young woman. What treasures!

If anyone has any brilliant ideas for spreading the word about my revolution....please send them my way....preferably by letter but leaving comments here works, too.

I hope you have inspiring, restful weekends.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Letter Writing Essentials

You may be more inclined to start writing letters if you have all of the essential writing supplies. I find that if I have to spend time searching for things like a decent pen, for example, the letter is just not going to get written. Even more ideal, is a space to write in. Maybe you're like me and have a desk in your house that isn't really used as a desk but used as a place to "put things." You know, things that don't actually have a place anywhere else so that smooth, bare surface (a.k.a the top of a desk) will suffice. Maybe clear it off, buy a small lamp and have your letter writing desk. It's a little bit like having a place to meditate in your home except this space is probably much easier to create and hey, when you get lost in writing, it's a form of meditation, isn't it? There, you just killed two birds with one stone. I just thought about that last commonly used statement and it's really not very nice, is it?

What you will need:
  • a sturdy box with lid or an empty drawer
  • good quality writing paper/pads of stationary/notecards/envelopes (check out my upcoming post on stationary shopping and where to go!)
  • stickers or decals to dress up the plain envelopes (especially white ones!!)
  • a pen (s): I prefer those fine felt tip markers
  • address book: if yours is ratty and full of scribbled out addresses. Consider investing in a new one for your letter writing pals.
  • stamps (national and international)

And that's it. This makes a great gift for someone especially a child who is just getting started in letter writing. Fill a decorated shoe box with all of the supplies one needs to write letters including a pack of stamps.

If you're wanting to jump on board The Letter Writing Revolution but so far you have only gotten as far as reading these posts, your homework is to get out there and buy your supplies and then write a letter. Keep sending in your updates of how you are helping to revitalize the lost art of letter writing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1st Week Update

The Letter Writing Revolution was launched just one week ago today and there are 37 followers already.......averaging 5 followers per day! That's amazing!! I hope to see this website continue to grow. Most importantly, I wish to hear your stories of how getting back into or beginning letter writing has impacted your life. I can see some of you frowning and wondering how something as simple as writing a letter can even come close to impacting a life. You might be surprised.

I have been getting stories by email and on Facebook of how you are revitalizing this lost art of letter writing and I really enjoy hearing the stories and updates. I have also received a few letters this week from some of you that have really made my week. As promised, three letters went out by mail this morning right after I wrote them and another three will get written this evening and mailed out by morning. Although I launched this revolution, I have been Miss Slacky Pants when it comes to writing letters in the past. I, too, have fallen into the convenient pit of emailing but that has all changed as of last Wednesday.

A reminder since we are entering week 2:
The Letter Writing Revolution is simply a personal quest to revitalize a lost letter at a time. If you haven't shared this blog wth your email pals or on Facebook, please do so. Let's get everyone writing, sending and receiving letters especially children who have never had the chance. Maybe the teachers out there can connect with another class of same aged children in another school (in another country!) and exchange letters. Summer holidays are right around the corner.......find a pen pal or reconnect with an old friend and begin using Canada Post as your way to communicate. Send a letter to an elderly person who may be lonely. Let the people who serve you in your community know how much they mean to you by writing them a gratitude note. Write a letter of love to your spouse even if you think they don't really deserve it ;-) Take the time to write a letter to your child about what is going on in the world today (like an earthquake!) and how proud you are of them.

In closing, I want to share some words from one of this blog's followers. I received a letter from her today:
"I already feel I have betrayed the revolution~ email is just too easy. You may have unleashed a monster as well. I've spent time this afternoon digging into boxes looking for old letters. You've made me remember that I've enjoyed writing in the past, always wished I could have worked for a newspaper or even written a book............I await your reply."
Join the revolution. Write a letter. Spread the word.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Letters of Gratitude

"You've been so kind and generous. I don't know how you keep on giving. For your kindness, I'm in debt to you. For your selflessness~ my admiration. For everything you've done, you know I'm bound~ I'm bound to thank you for it."
~ Natalie Merchant
I am a bit of a gratitude junkie. I never take a kind word, action, thought for granted. I really don't. I am very aware of these things. I make it a point to communicate my gratitude to the appropriate person. I also notice when people could have a choice to be kind and yet they choose to be jerks. I have recently decided to focus on the kind people.
When it comes to stationary, there's nothing like a neat little box of thank you cards. They're inexpensive and there's just enough space to write an effective message of gratitude. There are so many designs that you can usually find some that reflect who you are....whether you are the plain white with gold "With Gratitude" printed on the front or the pastel kittens rolling in a ball of yarn. Maybe you are more into glitter and glitz and folk art fish. Whatever your style, a thank you card can represent you and communicate to the receiver that they are valuable.
Let's be honest~ We are expected to do kind things out of the goodness of our hearts without expectation of anything in return. For the most part, I think those of us who have reached some level of healthy self-esteem and maturity certainly do those things from a selfless place. And even though we are not supposed to expect anything in return, it sure is nice when someone sends off a little card in the mail with a handwritten note inside expressing their gratefulness for the thoughtful gift or the kind deed or for something you had no idea would have such an impact.
As much as I like receiving thank you cards, I really like writing them and as I said above, I am overly aware of kind acts that people do especially when they really didn't have to. I recently got into the habit of making a point of writing a letter to store managers when I get exceptional service. As a seasoned worker in the tourist/retail sector, I get really annoyed when people behave as though assisting you was a huge favour they were doing for you. Never mind the fact that they're getting paid to assist me. I used to be like most people and complain to a manager when the service I received left a lot to be desired. I have changed my managers receiving letters from me will open an envelope of praise and gratitude. I hope that the employee can be assured that their good service does not go unnoticed.
There are so many opportunites every day to spread the joy of handing a thank you card or better yet, mailing a thank you card to someone who is deserving. I would say that one of the most treasured gifts I have received over the years are the thoughtful cards and letters written by my clients thanking me for my help in their most vulnerable of times......childbirth and new parenthood. The beauty of the thank you letter (of all letters for that matter) is that they can be re-read and can lift a tired soul that is having a rough day.
Since today's topic is gratitude, I want to thank those of you who have handwritten me a note or letter this week. Opening my mailbox and finding creative colours and stationary has made me giddy! Thank you for reading my blog and for taking part in The Letter Writing Revolution. I want to hear about the letters YOU are writing and receiving these days.
Send me a letter if YOU would like to receive some mail. I promise to write you back!
You can write to me at: Julie Keon, P.O Box 533, Cobden, ON, K0J 1K0

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hard-To-Write Letters

So far, I have been writing about the joys of letter writing. How wonderful it is to write, send and receive a letter that has been handwritten. But what about the letters that are really tough to write? The ones that involve those really hard emotions that our culture spends an awful lot of time avoiding and denying. Emotions like anger, grief, sadness, regret, resentment, etc.

I have, thankfully, had to write only a few of those letters. One very memorable one was to my dad's best friend, Al, who was dying from cancer. I was living in BC at the time and I was so sad that I wouldn't have the opportunity to visit with him and talk with him before the end came. Al was a part of our life growing up and brought into our household, many moments of laughter and hysterics. He was a character to say the least and I don't expect to ever meet another man like Al in this lifetime. Feeling frustrated and knowing that I might regret the fact that I wouldn't see Al one last time, I decided to sit down and write him a letter about how he had impacted my life and how much I was going to miss him. I know that his wife received the letter and read it to him at his bedside. I felt peaceful knowing that this farewell had been completed.

Now, probably the most popular of the "hard-to-write-letters" is the 'Dear John' letter which I haven't written any of as I despise using letter writing, texting or emailing for matters of the heart like break-ups. Come on, people, get a back bone and be considerate enough to break-up with someone face-to-face. The letter can come afterwards. I know my sister has written a lot of 'Dear John' letters but that's only because she is married to a man named John.

After the break-up or the divorce, there may be many emotions that haven't even surfaced or acknowledged. Perhaps, you have a strong need to tell your former love of the things you really appreciated about them and on the other hand, maybe you feel a need to really get some things off your chest. Maybe you need them to know that you HATED when they left their socks on the floor and how they chewed their food. Yes, maybe their naked bike riding on city streets at 2am was eccentric and interesting when you first met but maybe you just need to tell them that, well, the novelty wore off and that's just weird. There are alot of things we keep to ourselves for the sake of keeping the peace but if the divorce is final, I say write it all down in one mad rush and send it off. Phew....doesn't that feel better?

On the other hand, there are letters that need writing that usually involve some form of difficult and strong emotion like rage and grief but that don't necessarily need to be mailed. I facilitate a workshop for women who want to make peace with their difficult births and one of the suggestions is letter writing. Handwritten letters that express all of it.....their anger, their disappointment, their grief, their rage, their feelings of shame and degradation and embarrassment and so on. The most important thing is to get it all down on paper as though they are writing to the one who crossed them and then they burn it. Some letters don't have to be mailed.

And finally, the letters of grief......the letters that are written to someone who has passed on. Perhaps, you didn't get a chance to say all you needed to say because time ran out or the death was sudden. What do you do with all of these unspoken words and thoughts? You write them down in the form of a letter and while you write you assume that in some way, the decesased will be able to read it. The peace brought about by this process can be magnificently healing. You can write about the things you wished you had said or done while the person was alive. You can apologize for the things that you didn't get around to apologizing for and you can thank them for the things they might have done that changed your life in some way. Sometimes these letters are filled with sheer anger and if that's what you got, that's what you write.

There are no rules to these types of letters. The act of getting it out of your head and heart and onto paper is not only the first step but it might be the only step needed. I suggest that if letters are highly emotional, that you wait a couple of days before sending and perhaps re-read it and make sure that you have no regrets when you drop it in the box.

Oh, one last type that I just thought of............maybe you have had a falling out with someone and you haven't spoken in days,weeks or even years. So very hard to move past the stubborness and pick up the much easier to send an email or a text. Take it from me, writing a letter will mean more and will be accepted more easily than a phone call as the one on the receiving end will have the opportunity to read it over and over before responding. And it is so much more personal than a text or an email. An email might insinuate that you really do want to make ammends but you're just too darn busy to do anything else but fire off an email. That likely won't get you the reaction you're hoping for.

If you see yourself in any of the situations above, think about the almightly letter and it's power in bringing closure, peace and healing to you (and maybe someone else) in difficult times.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Love Letters

Love Letter: A love letter is a romantic way to express feelings of love in written form. Delivered by hand, by mail or romantically left in a secret location, the letter may be anything from a short and simple message of love to a lengthy explanation of feelings. (Wikipedia)

One of my favourite classifications of a letter is the letter expressing love. Nothing says 'I love you' like the time spent thinking of your beloved while transcribing your thoughts into words and putting them on paper. These thoughts of love are now tangible and cannot be denied or misunderstood when they are clearly evident in ink on paper. Yes, over the years, feelings may change, you may love an another and your lover may have moved on but in that moment in time there is proof that you were loved.

In order to conduct research for this particular post, I opened up my old trunk that contains almost nothing else but letters. A few boxes contain only love letters. I am not sure why I have kept them all of these years but reading through several of them has left me reflective and even a bit weepy. I can recall in a moment what each letter was about, what I was going through, what I was experiencing as a teenager and as a young woman in her twenties. One of the letters describes a comforting statement that says, "Let me give you shelter in a treehouse and perhaps we will share a kiss or two." He was referring to a treehouse that we discovered one rainy night where our first kiss took place. The irony is that I now live in the house next door to that property. The treehouse is long gone but that letter reminded me of that time.

My first love letter was from a 13-year old boy that I met in a hockey rink in January 1984. We spotted each other across the ice surface. I was spending the weekend with a cousin and she went to school with this boy. We were introduced and our young romance began. We wrote letters to one another between hockey games and tournaments. It seemed that the only way we could see each other was to attend events at our local rinks. The good thing was that he knew a girl who came to my town often and she would hand deliver his letters which sometimes contained a photo or even the pencil he used in school that day. This love affair was over within a year but I hung onto his letters. I especially liked the one that contained the words to a new hit song that was in the charts that year. It was called "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. It's hilarious now to think that this boy was writing such heavy lyrics to a young girl he had just met. That's love for you.

Love came again when I was 16-years old and I had one of the most memorable summers of my life~ the summer of 1987. It was a summer of discovery and adventure and coming of age. It was also the summer my parents separated and I found love in a lanky, 15-year old boy who was a rebel without a cause, an artist, a poet, a musician and who treated me in a way that an angry and confused teen girl needed to be treated. Unfortunately, my dad wasn't too fond of the dyed hair, the skull buckles on his boots and the words "Bondage and Discipline" that were spray painted across the back of his leather jacket. But my dad didn't understand. You know how parents can be. What I have, though, is proof of that year in the form of letters, lots of letters.....handwritten and honest and loving. Here's a bit of just one:

"In this year we spent together, we have helped each other so much, so much more than any two people have ever helped each other on an emotional and internal perspective. We are in each other's debt forever. For the rest of my life, my actions, my violations, my successes will somehow reflect that year."

As I entered my 20's, I had a relationship with a guy that was a bit older than me. Our romance was a lot of fun but fleeting. It ended when he thought we should be more serious. I disagreed and he told me that I would never find anyone as good as him. After that statement, I knew, most certainly, that I would. I did find one letter in particular from him that I thought I would share:
"This is my love letter to you. My life has not known the friendship of anyone who could sit so lightly on my conscience and yet shine so brightly; until you. The gifts you have brought and shared with me cannot be scaled by value. They stand alone; they are unique. Like crisp autumn air and cool, clear water, you enhance my view of the world. I love you."

Just before I went to college, I met another young man unexpectedly. I have a large, over- stuffed envelope of letters from him but I couldn't bear to share any of them with you, dear reader. He was the same person who insisted that I destroy the letters from the 13-year old boy who wrote me my first love letter........and for maybe the only time in my life, I obeyed.

What is the big deal about destroying letters from 10 years earlier? The big deal is that after a few unsuccessful love affairs, hundreds of love letters written and received, and a one or two broken hearts along the way, I reunited with that boy from the rink when he was 26 and I was 25. That was 14 years ago and today we celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. His love letters are few and far between now although I do get one or two per year. His actions speak much louder than his words (written or otherwise).
In celebration of my marriage, I am off to write a love letter to him. I suggest and encourage you to do the same if you are blessed enough to share your life with someone worthwhile. And remember, a love letter can be written to your child, your sibling, your friend, etc. Not sure what to write? Start with "I love you" and then just write what comes naturally. Leave the letter on their pillow for them to find before bed or maybe tuck it into their bag so that it is discovered at work. Then, witness the magic of the simple, handwritten love letter.

It is my wish that today you will write a letter of love (long or short) and then don't forget to tell me all about it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Youngest Member of TLWR

The Letter Writing Revolution has begun and this photo was sent to me by an Ottawa mother of her son mailing his letter which he wrote on Day 1 of the revolution. It was raining outside and he (and his little sister) insisted on waiting until the rain stopped so that they could personally drop their letters into the Canada Post Box. This photo brought a big toothy smile to my face!

I have to say that, as far as I know, this boy and his sister are probably the youngest members of this movement. Very cool.
On another note, I received a lovely comment on yesterday's blog from Susan who shared that she had been intending on writing a letter to her son who is getting married tomorrow and had been putting it off. The Letter Writing Revolution gave her the gentle push she needed and she planned to set aside some time today to not only write a love letter to her first born son but one to his bride-to-be as well. This warms my heart and I am hoping that she managed to get it done.
For this revolution to be successful, I need to know who is actually reading this blog and who is taking the time to write at least one handwritten letter to someone, anyone. If you're just joinging this blog, you might want to see the very first post to understand what this revolution is all about. Please become a follower.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's's all about one of my favourite types of letters.........
LOVE letters.
If you are stuck and don't know who to write to. Send me a letter and I will write back to you. I promise. You can mail your letter to Julie Keon, P.O Box 533, Cobden, ON, K0J 1K0
or you can drop me a line and share you letter writing experiences.
Until tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where It All Began

I suppose I should explain how my passion for letter writing came about. First of all, I was a child and a teenager who survived without email and texting. We didn't have a choice but to write letters to our friends and relatives unless we spoke on the phone (which was a rotary phone by the way). From an early age, my mother had us writing notes and drawing pictures for our grandparents who lived away and we also had to write thank you notes after every birthday party to those who generously gave gifts.

When I was about 9 years old, I connected with my first pen pal; an Australian named Donna. She and I wrote back and forth, sending gum and stickers and even small packets of vegemite. I discovered Donna's mailing address in the back pages of an Archie Comic Digest under "Pen Pals." Soon after, I started writing to Sharon in the UK who was a Girl Guide like me. I also had penpals from Finland, the U.S.A and the Dominican Republic. I am sure there were more because I seemed to be writing letters all of the time as a child. Sharon (the pen pal from England) and I became really good friends through the mail and when we were 17 years old, she flew to Canada and we met in person for the first time. Our photo and story made it into the Cobden Sun newspaper. I travelled through Europe when I was 19 years old and my sister and I stayed with Sharon's family. Many years later, Sharon honeymooned in BC with her new husband. I was living there and so we got to visit each other again. We haven't written many letters over the last few years but we have still managed to keep in touch almost 30 years later.

You see, this is a large part of my motivation for The Letter Writing Revolution. What happens if the next generation never writes a letter? What if they never get to experience the disappointment of checking the mailbox in anticipation for a reply to the letter they sent or the joy that comes when after a period of waiting, the letter finally appears. Mail is so efficient now that you can send a letter and receive one back within a few days. My letter waiting days were long as it could take almost a month for a letter to get to Canada from Brisbane.

After I left home, I went to college and then to Whistler for a two year stint and finally settled in Victoria, BC. I wrote and accumulated a lot of letters during those years. In 1999, I was introduced to the internet and email and well, my letter writing days came to an abrupt halt. I still send out cards of greetings, encouragement, wellness, etc. but I very rarely sit down with my address book and my stationary and handwrite a letter. This revolution has caught the attention of the little girl inside of me who had a passion for paper and pen and words. I feel as though I am unearthing a part of me that has been dormant for a very long time.

I hope that you will all join me on this adventure. I am excited to receive feedback on your letter writing and letter receiving. Stay tuned for some really cool posts........Saturday's post will be all about love letters and there's a reason for that and I have some field trips planned in the coming weeks.

Now get out some paper and write that letter.........someone is waiting patiently to receive it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Is The Revolution?

One of these days, I'm gonna sit down and write a long letter
to all those good friends I've known."
~ Neil Young

And so it begins.......the first post of The Letter Writing Revolution. The desire to start a revolution like this has been floating around in my mind for sometime. Letter writing is quickly becoming (or has already become) a lost art and I intend on revitalizing letter at a time.
My goal for this blog is to post all things about letter writing from the best places to buy unique stationary to writing a love letter to sharing excerpts from some of my old letters (love letters and otherwise). I have so many ideas for posts that I can't wait to get started.
Before you technical folk hit the road and leave my blog to write yet another email, please bear with me and just give this idea the benefit of the doubt. I expect that once you experience the thrill of opening your mail box and discovering a pastel coloured envelope that contains handwritten (I know! What a concept!) words composed specifically to you, YOU will be a part of the letter writing revolution in no time.
So, how does the letter writing revolution work? It's simple. All you need to do to get started is think of someone you would like to write to and rather than firing them off an email that gets read and deleted soon after, write a few sentences with a pen on paper, put it into an envelope, address it and's the really cool part..........go to a post office and buy a stamp and drop it into the red Canada Post box (or any post box depending on where you live in the world).
No one to write to? That's okay. I have a solution for that. Write to me and I will write you back. I promise. You will receive a letter from me within a couple of weeks of sending yours and you can experience the thrill of getting mail the old fashioned way. If you have never written a letter before.........(seems impossible but I do know of some highly technical folk who laughed when I called this type of mail "snail mail" as to them, EMAIL was the new snail mail as even it is considered slow) please give this concept a chance.
It is not necessary to buy fancy stationary but it does make the letter writing far more interesting when you decorate plain white paper with drawings/stickers/ etc. or use coloured paper or coloured pens. The main goal for this blog is that everyone reading this, writes one letter to someone. It is important, though, that you explain in the letter that you are part of The Letter Writing Revolution and that not only are they expected to write you back, they are also expected to send one letter to someone they know explaining The Letter Writing Revolution.
I had told one friend about my blog idea and yesterday I received a letter in the mail from her. It was written on pink paper that had a funky designed border. In it she wrote:
"Here's a little note to celebrate The Letter Writing Revolution. You are so right that it is a lost art that needs some life again. I have to say that finding this pretty paper made me giddy with excitement at the thought of writing on it!"
You have nothing to write about? Take Neil Young's advice (see top of page) and write a note to someone you admire and just tell them why you admire them or how they inspire you. Did someone help you out during a difficult time in your life or after your baby was born? Have you ever told them so? If not, write them a note now telling them how they made a difference. Still nothing to write about? Send a letter to your children. They will be "over the moon" to get a letter in the mail. Trust me. It's like Christmas or a birthday! There is NOTHING like finding a sealed envelope with your name on it that isn't coming from Revenue Canada or the bank :-) and that contains words that were written for you and your eyes only. Tell your kids why you love them. The cool part is they will treasure that letter and in 50 years, they will have this piece of paper with YOUR handwriting on it. It becomes a piece of history. Ever written a spontaneous letter to your partner? And no, writing "Love insert name here" in a card doesn't count.
Okay, people, let the revolution begin. I want to hear all about your experiences! Send me your comments & your thoughts and tell me about the letters you write and the ones you receive. Again, if you're new to this and feel a bit odd writing to someone you know, write to me and tell me about yourself and I will write you back. I promise. Send letters to Julie Keon, P.O Box 533, Cobden, ON, K0J 1K0.
Happy Writing!!