Recently on Instagram, Sarah asked me how I got into penpalling and if I had any information about this sort of thing on my blog. I had been writing a little post in my head for a while now, and her question prompted me to finally get it together. As it turns out, though, it will be more than one post because, well, this is one of my favorite topics and I am kind of wordy.
How I got started
Every time I get happy mail, my 9-year-old daughter says, "Why do you get so much good mail? Your penpals send you the best things."
And I tell her, "If you want to get mail, you need to send mail!"
And this is 100% true. But in the back of my mind I think, "And get an Instagram account." I am not going to tell her that right now, though.
I have written to friends and family since I was little and have even had a couple of penpals (friends from summer camps and my friend Claudia in Germany), but only recently have I started writing regularly to people I've never met in person who live across the country and across the world.
This past July, Jeff took a two-week trip to South Africa. Shortly after he left the country, I got srep throat. Shortly after that, each one of my kids took turns getting sick with a stomach bug. That meant that at least one of us was sick during that whole time period.
|Some of the postcards Jeff sent from South Africa|
What does this have to do with letter writing? Well, we were homebound for a good two weeks. We made basically NO plans outside of the house. Once my strep cleared up (rather quickly with the antibiotic), I felt fine and was able to take care of the kids, who mostly wanted to watch cartoons and sleep. I stayed up late at night waiting for it to be morning in South Africa so I could talk to Jeff when he woke up. I used all of this downtime and late-night time to myself to catch up on a pretty large backlog of thank-you notes. It was a wonderful way to spend the time because I had so many that I needed to write and also because writing to people is a great way to feel connected and not lonely when you are homebound and your husband is on the other side of the world with limited cell phone reception and time to talk. :)
|The first batch of long overdue thank-you letters|
Snail mail has been a favorite topic on this blog since the beginning, but at that point this summer I hadn't blogged in months. But I had been on Instagram fairly regularly since our trip to Italy in June. I decided to start taking pictures of the mail I sent and posting them to Instagram because pretty mail pics are some of my favorite pics to look at. (And posting to Instagram was more manageable for me at that time than posting to the blog.)
And then . . . a whole new world opened up for me.
Instagram is an amazing social media site in the way it allows for interaction among users. I already followed some of my favorite bloggers, but I started meeting other snail mail and paper enthusiasts (bloggers and non-bloggers alike) through hashtags like #sendmoremail, #showandmail, #snailmail, and #stationery (just to name a few).
Now several of these new Instagram friends have become my penpals, which is so very cool to me. And even those that are not officially my penpals, I consider kindred spirits and online friends. :)
And I owe all of this to a couple weeks of downtime, a long list of thank-yous, and Instagram (I love Instagram).
I'm working on another post with more practical steps for getting started in letter writing, but for now I will leave you with a little sneak peek. Step 1 is super simple:
Write a letter to someone you know, preferably your grandma.
I got started in penpalling just by writing the letters I already needed to write. Start working on yours, and I'll be back with more soon!
P. S. For some visual inspiration in the meantime, search the Instagram hashtags #sendmoremail, #snailmail, #stationery, and #showandmail. And you can see all my mail-related pics (and more) on my account here.
P. P. S. Remember, the best inspiration comes from actually writing--so get out your pen and paper and write!