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UPDATE 5/12/2010:  I’ve had so many lovely offers via email to exchange letters since this post first ran in January. I wrote this post to explain my goal for the year—which is to write letters to friends and deepen my existing relationships. It’s a bit different than beginning a Pen Pal relationship with someone new. (although, that’s a very good thing and kudos to those of you who do!) At this point, I cannot in good faith take on any more pen pal or writing commitments. But I hope that if you’re inspired by the post below,  you’ll start writing letters to your loved ones and cherished friends, too! Blessings on your journey, Wende


A box of Sunshine came in the mail yesterday. And I’m feeling warmer already.

Sunshine in a box is what arrived at my door yesterday. I spent the last bit of Christmas money I was hoarding on Meyer Lemons.  That probably sounds a bit crazy to you—but as a displaced Californian, it sounds like, smells like home.  I’d been coveting those lemons for months. And, really, while it’s an expense I shouldn’t be making right now—(Hello “Major pay-cut you’re lucky to have a job December” and that’s probably all I’m going to say about the horror that was December. *cough*)— sometimes you just need something small on which to hang your sanity. Tiny yellow pegs holding you up by your coat collar, gently whispering, “You’re ok. You really are, O.K.”

Did I mention my sanity was on the line? That doesn’t make it sound any less crazy, does it?

So, I bought lemons. But not just any lemons. Meyer Lemons. A few days later, a lovely box of sunshine arrived on my doorstep, “Howdy do, I’m your future. Want a taste?”

And those chatty lemons have me thinking. Not just about home and sunshine. But about the little yellow pegs that hold us all up. About getting good things in the mail. Good mail is certainly a sanity savior for me. IZ  calls my Anthropologie catalog “Wende P0*n” and that’s probably a pretty good description. And when supply packages arrive with bits of the past captured in fabric, I’m excited too. But the best mail, is that unexpected package or letter. The one you didn’t pay for, the one you didn’t subscribe to, the one that arrives saying, “HELLO YOU! You’re so fabulous I thought I’d write and tell you. Oh, and do you know what happened to me today? . . .”

Truth is, I don’t write enough of those kinds of letters. I think about it. I write blog posts and juicy letters in my head on a regular basis. I also write TV sitcoms and Booker Award winning novels. But getting around to committing pen to paper is rare. I tend to send email—but most often, I send “thought mail.”  If you get a warm tingling feeling for no apparent reason, it’s probably the thought mail I sent. Me, or someone else who thinks you’re fabulous.

In an attempt to live into my year—to strengthen the ties that bind and nourish my own soul, I’m declaring 2010 the year of Snail Mail. This is not an anti-technology thing. Because I love chatty emails and comments on this blog, and I adore the twitter conversations and when you update your facebook with a funny status report.

But I also love the feel of sunshine on my face. I love the feel of real paper in my hand, with your scrawly penmanship on the front of the envelope promising news. And when I get a letter, an unexpected note just because, it’s exactly like sunshine on my face. Did I mention it’s really grey here? And that grey days make you crazy? Yeah, letters in the mail are little yellow pegs of sunshine, holding me up by my collar, whispering “You’re Ok. You really are O.K.”

So, Operation Sunshine it is. I’m writing real letters this year, to real people, to people like you! In fact, some of those letters might even be addressed to YOU! Real live letters, probably typed because you can’t read my scrawling penmanship after about 3 paragraphs, with real postage, in your mailbox, telling you how fabulous you are! And how thankful I am that you are in my life. And do you know what happened to me today? . . .

You don’t have to write back if you don’t want to. That’s OK. But I’d love it if you did. Then both of us can stand on our porches, with letters in our hands that are not bills or catalogs, but tiny little missives of sun and love and laughter. And we can both know we’re ok. We really are O.K.

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