Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them. 
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you’ve been around the kasbah for any length of time, you not only have my sympathy, undying gratitude, and a sense of loyalty rivaled only by Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson (is there nothing he won’t do for Lady Mary or Lord Grantham?), but you probably also possess a keen awareness of my affinity for letter writing. Any kind of letter can send my quills a-quivering: endearing sentiments scribbled on a post-it, postcards from far off lands, a thoughtfully worded email, and of course, the best of them all: the hand written letter you receive in the mail.

Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company. ~Lord Byron

When I think of the time and effort it takes for someone to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to compose just the right combinations of words while thinking only of that particular person, I’ll confess I get a bit giddy. To me, notes and letters are like sharing little pieces of ourselves, even if it’s just a few lines scrawled on a torn scrap of paper and tucked in an envelope.

photo credit: a.drian via photopin cc

photo credit: a.drian via photopin cc

Or don’t you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.  ~Ernest Hemingway

That’s why when I first read about The World Needs More Letters movement a few months ago, it was so heartening to read about someone doing good in the world through something as simple as writing letters to strangers. I was also impressed that the founder, Hannah Brencher, wasn’t asking for anything in return. Just a giving of compassionate, unconditional love in the form of a supportive, caring letter. Done freely and without strings attached. To people she’d never met.

There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters… I could be their leader.  ~Charlie Brown

But then I got busy with my own life, the site slipped into the shuffle of things, and I forgot about it . Then, this past week it popped up again in my inbox when it was featured on the fabulously uplifting and inspirational website, The Daily Good. I first heard about this great website through reading Kait Nolan‘s blog and loved the idea of getting something in my inbox every day that showed me the good in the world and the inspiring stories of others doing amazing things. I signed up and now look forward to reading more about the good to temper all of the chaos and tragedy going on around us.

What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call.  ~Liz Carpenter

The organization The World Needs More Love Letters is all about sending out handwritten letters to anyone in need of one. Through their website, you can request a letter be sent to someone you know for any reason. Their team of letter writers then distributes the requests and letter writing magic happens. Within a short period of time, the recipient receives an anonymously handwritten letter in the mail with words of inspiration or encouragement that also lets them know they are cared about and they matter.

I’ve decided to pursue joining their team and lending a hand in writing some letters as a way not only to give a little something back, but also as a way to honor and celebrate the one year anniversary of *officially* claiming my identity as a writer. If anyone else has a love of letters and has an interest in writing words of encouragement to strangers, I’d love to have you join me and would be the first in line to cheer you on.

For now, I’ll leave with a song to inspire you to write more letters:



And how about you, fine readers? Are any of you a fellow letter writing devotee? Did any of you have a pen pal when you were younger? Also, does anyone else use letter writing as a excuse to buy more office supplies like I do? Come have some tea and share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you.

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21 thoughts on “Making the World a Better Place One Letter at a Time

  1. I had several pen friends as a kid, from places all around the world. It was fun! But they gradually faded away, and I don’t think I was a particularly reliable correspondent.
    We also used to exchange letters with my grandfather who lived interstate and used to write FABULOUS letters and draw little cartoons as well. As a child, they were a huge highlight, and I’ve kept a great many of them. HIs hand-drawn birthday cards and poems were also brilliant.
    The first time I went travelling we had to rely on hand-written letters for communication. My, how times have changed.
    I don’t write letters very often any more — if ever!

    I presume you’ve seen the film “Letters to Juliet”? If you haven’t, GO RENT/DOWNLOAD/BUY IT NOW! I love that movie so much, and the letter-writing enterprise you mention reminded me of it immediately…

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Your grandfather sounds like a delightful fella ~ I would have loved and cherished those hand written letters and drawings, too. What a treasure to still have them and remember the thrill of receiving them as a child.

      I have seen “Letters to Juliet”. Loved it! In fact, when I was in Italy a year and a half ago I seriously considered making a day trip to Verona from Venice just so I could see the “Juliet balcony”. It’s considered very touristy and isn’t even the true place where the woman on whom Juliet was based ever stood, but it still would have been a fun place to visit nonetheless. The World Needs More Love Letters does sound a lot like what they were doing in the movie – I hadn’t thought of that but you’re so right!

  2. I had pen pals as a kid, and it made going to the mail box fun and exciting. You expected to find something good there. Unfortunately, as an adult, it seems the only things that come in the mail are bills and junk mail. Which makes this old-fashioned letter writing campaign that much more valuable.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      I totally agree – getting something in your mail box is so much more fun and tangible than an email in your inbox. I find that to be true even more so these days since so much correspondence is done online or via texts. Now, whenever I get a card or a package from a friend or from family in the mail, it feels extra special.

  3. I love letters. In fact, I collect vintage postcards. In my antiques business, it was always such a thrill to find old letters. The writer in me was always wondering what the story was.
    I do write notes and send cards for special occasions. I’m not sure about what others think as they read since my penmanship leaves much to be desired after all the years of typing and not writing.LOL
    I hadn’t heard about the MLL movement. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Vintage postcards are so much fun to look at and read. I, too, have wondered about the backstories that would accompany them.

      And I’m sure whoever is receiving your thoughtful letters and cards appreciates the effort and time you put into it. 🙂

  4. I moved a lot as a kid so I was always writing letters to cousins, my grandmothers and friends. I especially liked sending and getting postcards. My dad still sends me one wherever he goes. 🙂

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Letters were a great way to stay in touch before the age of email and texting, especially since you moved so much. I imagine it gave you a sense of continuity during all of the changes going on. I love getting postcards, too. I have a friend who lives in Germany and travels frequently around Europe. She sends me a postcard from each place she goes to and I do the same for her.

  5. Hmm, you know those days that seem to have a weirdly coincidental theme that turns up everywhere you look? Handwritten letters seems to be it for me today. Thanks for posting about The World Needs More Love Letters. I’ve never been very good at letter-writing but I’m checking them out.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Oh, I hope you do! It seems like they can use as many letter writing volunteers as they can get. I think all of the coincidental happenings are telling you to bring more letter writing into your life. 🙂

  6. I’ve written letters all my life, and continue to do so. I have three cousins with whom our main form of communication is the old-fashioned snail-mail letter. I make it a point to write to them in that format, because it seems more personal than email. I too use it as an excuse to buy cards and just the right kind of letter stock. Because ‘presentation is everything’!

    And as Ellen recommended, you “must” see LETTERS TO JULIET! That movie represents the heart of The World Needs More Letters movement.

    By the way, I’ve been thinking of doing a blog series based on the 21 years (!) of letters I exchanged with legendary Disney animator Frank Thomas. I learned so much about storytelling from reading his letters. Over the years I became good friends with his wife too, and she confirmed that the facts in his letters were more than a bit (?) exaggerated at times … to make a better story. 😉

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      That’s so lovely that you still write letters to your cousins. And yes, I’ve seen “Letters to Juliet” – really enjoyed it. I am glad you and Ellen both mentioned it since it is so similar to The World Needs More Love Letters.

      You should totally make a blog series based on your letters. What a great idea! It would be fascinating to read. I hope you share them with us in the near future. 🙂

  7. At last, I can say I have something in common with Ernest Hemingway!


    True, we can’t reread a phone call, but we can reread the comments good friends, faithful followers and guests leave for us. Admittedly, it is more than a little difficult to slip a laptop through the letter flap on the front door.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      I am always so appreciative of each and every comment left here. I love reading them (and, at times, re-reading them) and feel honored whenever anyone takes the time to write one. And, as great as comments are, if anyone ever wanted to slip a laptop through my mail slot, I wouldn’t complain. 😉

  8. i had a few pen pals when I was a kid. I took foreign language classes and was into that sort of thing. In today’s world, I’d probably do more with that but it would be email. I had one form Italy, Abu Dhabi, and Korea. Fun stuff. I kept them all.

    I also have a box filled with every letter my husband wrote me during the dating years. We had a long-distance relationship for a year.

    Today, I don’t write many letters. I plan to write at least five this year. I announced a challenge on my personal Facebook page to respond if you would like a personal letter (and maybe a gift or maybe not) from me this year. I promised to commit to the first five who commented. In turn, those individuals had to do the same on their respective pages. I had five commenters within a very short time. Minutes.

    We all must miss letters.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      How sweet that you have all of those letters from over the years and across the miles. It’s making the hopeless romantic in me smile. I imagine those letters to be like a brief biography of those particular times in your life.

      What a great challenge to post on FB. I’m not surprised you had such a quick response! Who wouldn’t want a letter from you? 🙂 I agree, there is something about letters that many of us are indeed missing.

  9. I had a penpal or two when I was a kid, but they faded quickly because I wasn’t the best at writing back. One person who didn’t care about that at all, however, was my grandmother. When her and my grandpop moved to Florida, she started writing me letters. I would write back once in a while, but regardless of whether I wrote back or not, the letters would still come. My grandpop also wrote me one time, including coins from his travels for my coin collection.
    I cherished those letters.
    Hopefully that art will never die.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      There’s a lot of you who had grandparents who wrote to you. It’s a very sweet and endearing thing to read! I, too, hope the art of letter writing never dies. It’s such a unique way for people to connect, especially with those we don’t see very often.

  10. on ,
    Marcia said:

    I have always written letters, but find myself writing fewer as the years go by. When I lived in Costa Rica and Panama I sent letters stateside to friends and relatives. I still love getting hand written letters and cards. I enjoy seeing people’s hand writing as well. It’s such a personal link. For the past five or six years my Dad has been sending me, on a monthly basis, notes and poems he’s written. I have saved them all!

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      I love that your dad still sends you notes and poems. Such a wonderful connection you have with him. And I agree, a handwritten letter or card is a very personal link to someone, second best to actually hearing their voice.

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