I do not need to look at the clock to know it’s time to get lunch started. Every afternoon at exactly 12:32, I hear the crunching of gravel on the dirt road in front of our rural home. It’s the neighbor, off to check the mail.
To my elderly neighbor, the mailbox is something sacred. It holds connections to people he loves. That mailbox holds small stories and trails of love songs.
Of course, his mailbox usually has election campaign material, catalogues and bills this time of year. It doesn’t stop him from hoping and checking.
His simple, sacred movement to the mailbox always inspires me to pull out a pen and start writing someone a letter. I do it on a regular basis, which means my stationery is all cards and envelopes that I love. But it didn’t used to be this way. My stationery pile used to be a disaster of mismatched envelopes and cards and things that I would never use. As a result, I rarely used any of my stationery. I didn’t write to my grandma, who was probably performing the very same ritualistic journey to her mailbox every day.
I had to get myself organized so that I could get myself inspired to write and write.
Here’s how I got my stationery organized and decluttered in only a few minutes so I could start writing, celebrating, and loving through the handwritten note:
1. Sort cards by purpose.
Make different piles for thank you cards, birthday cards, everyday occasions, and so forth. This process makes it easy to see what you have (and what you have too much of).
2. Donate the excess to people and organizations.
Chances are, you have more of one type of card than you’ll ever need. Or you’ll have old stationery that doesn’t suit you anymore. (I was hanging onto Bugs Bunny thank you cards for years.)
Here’s the trick: Think less of how you can use the stationery some day. Focus on who can use that stationery right now.
- Give graduates your extra thank you cards.
- Call organizations who offer low income children free summer camps, and give them a pile of unneeded stationery (maybe throw in some stamps?).
- Tie up a bundle with a pretty bow and give them to your grandma or a senior center.
- Donate religious or all occasion cards to your church. (My hometown church would always send cards to college students, senior citizens, and church community members during various religious milestones or times of need.)
3. Put the letter writing supplies you love all together.
Keep stamps, return labels, the address book, and other supplies with your cards. This habit always encourages me to write and get cards in the mail because I know I won’t have to dig around for my address book or a stamp.
4. Add pretty things to your collection.
We just got a custom return address stamp. I also have a favorite blue pen and stamps. I keep them all with my stationery. The writing habit feels more beautiful when you have beautiful things to use in your correspondence. It makes you unconsciously want to write more and keep using all those beautiful pieces of paper.
With an organized collection of stationery, the ritual of letter writing becomes sacred and enjoyable instead of a rush or neglected practice.
What types of unused cards and stationery could you donate? Who could you pause to write to today?