My friend, Elizabeth, is a photographer, a story teller, a wide-eyed wonderer, and a woman who knows we all need beauty. She know it's a need that's soul deep. Her spot on the web meets that need. Again and again. She shares her life with a pup named Atlas, and you are about to fall in love with him. With her, too. Friends, meet Elizabeth.
When I was younger, I wrote letters to a dear friend of mine. She lived less than fifteen miles away and I saw her most every weekend. I loved writing letters - it was fun to capture funny snippets from daily life in a story - and I didn't have many far away friends. I didn't expect her to write back; I just wanted to write letters. Plus, my dad intervened in my one attempt to find my own pen pal (I tried to write to an inmate. There must have been an ad in the classifieds? I quietly slipped the letter in the mailbox one morning - apparently I suspected my parents wouldn't approve - but it was discovered. That was the end of that.)
I have a stack of postcards and cards on my desk right now. They are all addressed - so I remember who they are for - and I am slowly writing on each of them. Most of them are celebrating March birthdays. I am very fond of belated birthday cards; I like to think it's even more surprising and delightful when a card shows up well after the birthday has passed. This month, I was inspired to recycle a couple of unused Christmas cards in the spirit of fun and whimsy. As far as I'm concerned, you can say "fa la la la la" all year round, and Santa making a snow angel on the beach is the perfect sight for a snow-covered Midwestern friend. (I just realized that the latter says "Enjoy the holidays". Your birthday is a holiday, right? Maybe it should be.)
It turns out that all these years later, I still love sending mail. With a few words and a stamp, I get to show someone that I care about them, even if I don't say so directly. I get to show someone that someone out there in the big wide world is thinking about them. I get to imagine a little dose of happiness sitting in someone's mailbox between bills and junk mail. I get to remember that - even in moments when I feel lonely - there are people in the world that I love and adore.
I must say that I loved mail even more once I discovered the magic of postcards. They really are the perfect size! Letters are great, but sometimes my hand just doesn't flow across the page, and it's so easy to jot something on a postcard and pop it into the mailbox. (Like: I'm thinking about you! I had a dream about you last night - we were spies and managed to save the world! Harold and Kumar - a pair of bluebirds - are eating bird seed on my patio and I wish you were here to watch them with me! You might like this quote!)
If I really stop and think about it, sending mail is a beautiful practice. I am doing it for other people, sure, but I am also doing it for myself. It feels like I am putting a little bit of myself out into the world. It feels like I am practicing vulnerability and trust and openness. It feels like I am helping to spread joy and surprise and wonder. It feels like a way to ground myself in the moment and to really appreciate it.
I want to help fill the world with beauty. Sending mail is one of my favorite practices.
p.s. I realize this is not a picture of mail, but it is an image of mine that is on one of the postcards that is currently awaiting my written word.
All words and images are by Elizabeth Halt and are used with permission.