Hand-Written Letters in An Era of Email

Often in this world of typing, we miss out on the tactile pleasure of writing a letter or note by hand. However, there is something just a little bit magical about sealing an envelope or scribbling out an address to a far away place; perhaps, because we know the joy of being on the receiving end . . .

Sending a handwritten letter is a little way that we can give; maybe make someone’s day, send our condolences, or a congratulations. Yes, an email is quicker and more convenient from a time-saving perspective, but you can only get as much from things as you give to them. Give the time to sit down and write, to choose nice stationary, to lick and seal an envelope. Not only will you be giving a tangible object but you’ll benefit from the tactility of making.

The hand written letter is a tangible representation of your connection and friendship with the one whom you mail it to. The tactile experience of holding and opening an envelope, of hearing the rip of the sealed flap, the crinkle of paper and the unfolding of a letter; it is the touchable, material existence that makes receiving a note this way a little bit more magical.

Email is convenient. It doesn’t take up space in our drawers or require a walk out to the mailbox. You don’t have to go on a hunt for a pen that works or stop and think where in the world you keep the envelopes. But if we’re really to embrace slower living, let’s put the importance of making and of connection over the easiness of email.

Many of us may not have written a letter in a while . . .

I’ve collected a bit of letter-writing etiquette that you will want to look over before beginning . . .

Letter Writing Etiquette for the 21st Century :

1. The date is typically placed in the upper right-hand corner of the 1st page. Especially if you’re mailing a letter internationally, it may take a long time before arriving at it’s destination, and a date simply gives the recipient a way of knowing when it was written.

2. The best letters will share stories or memories and will offer value in the form of heart-warming or inspiring anecdotes. A letter may kindly instruct or offer sage advice, though more sensitive topics may be best for another time…

On the other hand, occasionally there are words that we cannot bring ourselves to say out loud, in which case writing them in a letter is better than never getting them out at all.

3. If you’d like a letter back, ask questions and engage your recipient. If you share a memory, ask if they remember it the same way. If you share updates on your life, ask about theirs! It is only the polite thing to do.

4. Try to write legibly! Of course, your hand writing is part of the charm of a hand-written letter, but don’t make your reader pull out a magnifying glass or wonder what you’re saying.

Now that we’ve got a little etiquette down, let’s talk about ending letters. The closing can sometimes be difficult to decide on. While ending with the traditional ‘sincerely’ can often feel too still and formal, sometimes ‘love’ doesn’t quite fit the occasion… Plus, in the spirit of intentionality, it’s important to come up with just the right closing for your particular recipient. To help you, I’ve written about 5 unique and charming ways to end your letters below . . .

Unique Ways to End Your Letter :

1. ‘Kindly’ : This one is my favorite. It’s simple and sweet and appropriate for both beloved kin and strangers.

2. ‘Very Sincerely Yours’ : This adds a warm touch to the traditional ‘Sincerely.’

3. ‘Kindest Regards’ or ‘Warmest Regards’ : Again, this is fitting for a stranger or a friend. It is appropriate for some formal relationships without sounding cold or detached.

4. ‘Gratefully’ : Show your gratitude for friendship or a favor received.

5. ‘As Ever’ : A sweet, unique way to end; probably most suitable for a friend or more well-known acquaintance.

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

You can also write letters to those within the walls of your own home. My husband and I thoroughly enjoy writing notes to each other, and I bought this mailbox to hang inside our house, into which we can drop little notes and love letters to each other . . .

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

With some letter etiquette and some new, unique ways to end your heart-felt note, you’re ready to drop some freshly sealed envelopes in the mail . . .

Every now and then, and I’m sure you can find the time, sit down and write a hand-written letter; a note to an old friend, or a message to a new one, a congratulations to an acquaintance or condolences to a neighbor. Whomever it is, be intentional; give of your time and thoughts and truly try to embody your care for them in your writing. (Which, btw, doesn’t mean it has to be a ten page love-letter, a short note or card, when done well, can show how much you care as well).

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

What matters is the connection, the tactile experience of making and opening, the magic of a surprise in the mail and the little bit of wonder in the tangible representation of a real, genuine connection.

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

I am wrapping up and sending a package and hand-written note to a new acquaintance today (Of course, I didn’t photograph this one because I didn’t think they wanted their address made public). Instead, I had fun making up magical places for the packages I wrapped for these photos. I wanted to keep the packages out as a cute addition to our decor and as a little reminder to send gifts and write letters more often.

My “make-believe” addresses:

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

As always, I hope this post finds you well and if not, I hope it brings a little wonder and whimsy into your day . . . Thoughts on letter writing? Do you do it often? Would you do it more if you knew the recipient would write back? Does the idea of getting letters in the mail excited you? I’d love to know your thoughts and questions either below or over on Instagram. Thanks for being here; you are so wonderful and capable and appreciated.

Kindly, Warmest Regards, and As Ever,


Slow Living, Solitude and Boosting Your Creativity

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.”

In a world that is constantly drowned in noise, many of us don’t even know how to be comfortable…just being…  We feel the need to fill every silence with words, and we’ve become so out of touch with ourselves that we’re afraid to tune out…

Being alone with ourselves without the distraction of noise can be a little nerve racking… you begin thinking: What will I do? What will I think about? 

Since you’re here, I’m betting you could use a little quiet time. However, sometimes when we finally make the time for a quiet moment we don’t even know what to do with it. We absentmindedly pull out our phones or check our Netflix queue… But these things don’t really help us relax or come back feeling rejuvenated, so I’ve compiled a list to help you be quiet . . .

How to Be Quiet: A Journey to Self Reflection and Better Creativity

1. Do something that doesn’t require much noise (its quiet time)… so while I enjoy home improvement and it is certainly a nourishing hobby, it also isn’t quiet time. We have to take time to be still, and that comes with silence or something close.

2. Do something that helps you focus on yourself (again, restrain yourself from the tendency to find a distraction)… write in a journal, read an inspiring or motivating book, take a bath, go on a walk… for me, there is usually a lot of tea involved… Most importantly though, take time to just be . . .

“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”  ― Chaim Potok, The Chosen

3. Reflect on the thoughts that come to you whilst trying to be quiet. When there is nothing to distract you, where do your thoughts tend to drift? This can bring about a lot of self discovery.

“Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers.”
― Ester Buchholz

4. Keep trying. The more comfortable we can become with solitude and the more that we can make time for it, we will find that it is easier to stay focused on our own dreams and visions for ourselves instead of getting caught up in what the world might be telling us to think. Spending more time not talking but reflecting in solitude can actually help you find your voice . . 

“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.”  ― Charlotte Eriksson

So, in a world that is always urging you to speak up, sometimes we have to settle down, slow down, and stop talking in order to find the right words to say . . .

If you’ve felt like you needed some extra inspiration or boost in your creativity, or would just otherwise like to be more mindful of your inner thoughts, I would urge you to try to make some time for quiet time… you’ll never know what discoveries may await you until you try it . . .

Creating A Space That is Inviting To All

white bed linens mug comfortable hygge

white bed linens mug comfortable hygge

Inspiration for this post comes from an article by Indigo2Ash, about decorating tips for either introverts or extroverts.

I decided to come up with ways to create an environment in which both introverts and extroverts feel comfortable and satisfied. Not only does creating balance in ones home make it more inviting for all, but a balance of intimate and gathering-oriented spaces in your home also pushes one to not become too complacent with either quietness or ongoing chaos. We all need time for self reflection and quiet indulgences, as much as gatherings and connections are a vital part of life. But a balance within your home can nurture all who live there and make your guest more comfortable. 

The basic tips for cultivating a comfortable home for introverts include: 

Soft materials: blankets, throws, plush bathrooms towels and lots of pillows. Introverts find comfort in the softness of these textile materials, and nurtures their need to take a break and feel safe and comforted. 

Wood instead of steel or aluminum might be used to make a space more soothing. The natural aspect of the wood is another way to create a calming space that fosters mindfulness.

The lack of overstimulating color: Whites, light, calming blues and cool grays provide a comforting environment. 

Soft lighting: Soft lighting is key, both to an introvert’s home and to a hyggelig atmosphere. It’s interesting, that many of the ways to make your home more introverted are the same as the ways to bring more hygge into your home. I think because hygge aims to find a quietness in our busy, bustling world. 

In a world that continues to get louder, busier, and more distracted, it’s important to take time to be still. However, we must also make time for loved ones and friends, to have gatherings and celebrate events and achievements. 

Our homes can invite connection and conversation with:

Open space: Large, open spaces in the living area and kitchen tend to help people feel more welcome. Often, gatherings tend to center around food, so having a large table and open space between the dining and kitchen areas helps to keep everyone connected as food preparation is taking place. With large spaces, take care not to let the hugeness of it feel cold or office-like (is that a word?)

Hyggelig lighting: Similar to the introvert’s desire for soft lighting, a warm glow can help people feel closer and inspire deeper discussions.

Seating capacity: One doesn’t necessarily have to have a whole lot of seating capacity. But have enough stools or chairs for small gatherings and events so that everyone can be comfortable. You may also want a few cushy armchairs 

Variety: Use a variety of textures. While introverts may be comforted by soft materials and wood, you can use those in combination with steel, aluminum, or tin. And adding a variety of textures to your gathering places (such as table settings) helps to create an interesting visual and center point for conversations and connection. 

Display: Display things that matter to you. Handmade items, art, photographs of you and your loved ones. Celebrate kinship and conviviality in your home by finding creating ways to display the things you love (see my blog post on why I display my highschool english homework).

I’ve found that it’s easy to create either an introvert or extrovert-centered environment based on the room. The bedrooms could be lots of soft materials, plush blankets, large pillows, etc. They should have soft lighting and plenty of natural light, and be kept clean and organized to inspire relaxation and clarity. The kitchen and living areas could be more lively to invoke congregations and conversation. However, keep the lighting warm and welcoming to create an atmosphere where deep discussion and closeness is welcomed. Have plenty of seating and a variety of textures, but make sure the seating is comfortable and provides some coziness to your guests. You can create the most meaning, however, in the way you invite people into your home and how you make them feel while they are there. Make it a place where people leave feeling better and more inspired than they were before . . .

Take a look at your space. How can you make it more inviting for all? Are you an introvert or extrovert? How does your space nurture that side of yourself? What can you do to nurture others in your home? I’d love to know your thoughts on this, and any other tips you’d like to add to my list. 

And of course, have a wonderful day . . .