Gift of a Letter

"What cannot letters inspire? They have souls; they can speak; they have in them all that force which expresses the transports of the heart; they have all the fire of our passions." Letter from Heloise to Abelard (from Gift of a Letter by Alexandra Stoddard)

Just returning from the National Stationery Show in New York City, I was struck by the energetic "forward motion" of the thousands of vendors still enthusiastic about the power of the hand-written note. Artists proudly displayed their watercolors on letterhead, invitations and place cards; sales reps extolled the creative spark of polka-dotted and beribboned stationery; and entrepreneurs remained full of hope that the power of the hand-written word might overtake the power of email. They all came out in full-force and crowded the aisles of the Javits Center in downtown Manhattan for the four-day event.

I walked for six straight hours, on a personal mission to nail down a packaging supplier for a new product I'll be launching this fall. Perusing the aisles and booths of the largest national trade show for the stationery and paper goods market, I came away with a few creative strategies for ROCKET MOMS everywhere:

1) Elevate your deskwork from boring to brilliant. Many of the near-daily tasks we are required to perform at our kitchen desks involve mundane and repetitive routines: paying bills; reconciling the checkbook; dealing with medical statements (ugh!); RSVP-ing to social invitations; and writing quick notes to teachers, carpool moms, coaches, etc. This stuff can bog you down...especially if you are a fun, sanguine personality type who holds general disdain for all things administrative. Take heart! There are literally thousands of colorful, creative papers on the market today, giving you a myriad of options from which to choose. Run to your nearest stationer to elevate this arena to one of artistic brilliance. One of the simplest strategies for ROCKET MOMS is transform the mundane, everyday realities of motherhood into highly creative endeavors. This area is no exception. Choose beautifully designed papers to respond to invitations; convert favorite photos to stamps (check out www.stamps.com); invest in a wonderful seal as well as some colorful sealing waxes...and you will find yourself thoroughly enjoying the previously dreary, dull task of paperwork. Make yourself a cup of organic coffee, turn on the stereo and deal with this everyday reality with an artistic twist.

2) Start a stationery wardrobe. Keep your eyes peeled for gorgeous papers, envelopes, stamps, seals, waxes, and labels. Have you seen the newest way of delivering sealing wax? It comes in "glue stick" form, ready to load into your low heat glue gun. It evenly distributes the hot wax to your envelopes, ready for stamping with your favorite seal. Watch for beautifully packaged gift enclosure cards, writing papers, and cards. Keep a birthday and anniversary journal near this stash so that you will better remember all-important dates of those in your circle of love.

3) Collect pretty storage containers. Beautiful options abound! Be they beribboned baskets or miniature suitcases or papered boxes: all present wonderful options for holding all of these fine papers and accoutrements. Display them in full view so that you will remain inspired to delve into them frequently, pulling out your favorites and sending them for all different occasions.

4) Commit to catching up on written correspondence one day a week. I confess to being hopelessly behind...but I also admit to always trying to do better. Can you become convicted to writing at least one personal letter on your "correspondence day"? With pen in hand--filled with a beautifully colored ink (hot pink? lime green? bright blue? purple?)--write a note of thanks or a note of condolence; respond to an upcoming social event; or simply transpose your children's activity calendar into your Filofax. Try to stay on top of these things as they have a way of quickly getting out of control, leaving you feeling guilty for being hopelessly late, as well as feeling dreadfully irresponsible for missing important deadlines.

5) Contribute to a letter-writing renaissance. Email has its purpose, to be sure. Few of us could live without it. Yet who could argue that a hand-written letter has significance beyond what any words electronically transmitted could possibly convey? It is the hand-written notes which I especially cherish and save. I keep a file into which each and every one of them falls. Email may, in the end, prevail, but I am hopeful that, like the thousands of vendors with whom I came in touch today in New York, the hand-written letter will remain a most valued gift from the heart.

Carolina Fernandez earned an M.B.A. and worked at IBM and as a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch before coming home to work as a wife and mother of four. She totally re-invented herself along the way. Strong convictions were born about the role of the arts in child development; homeschooling for ten years provided fertile soil for devising creative parenting strategies. These are played out in ROCKET MOM! 7 Strategies To Blast You Into Brilliance. It is available on Amazon.com, in bookstores everywhere, or by calling 888-476-2493. She writes extensively for a variety of parenting resources and teaches other moms via parenting classes and radio and TV interviews. Please visit http://www.rocketmom.com to subscribe to her free ezine and get a weekly shot of inspiration.

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