Friday, January 20, 2017

Old Fashioned Letter Writting

I want to try, in my posts here, to celebrate when I see people being creative and living well. Not only to encourage them but also to inspire you to maybe give some of these ideas a try as ways to enrich your life. I want to look at how various life choices may benefit us physically, mentally and spiritually. We are three part beings and to be truly well we have to take care of each of the afore mentioned areas of our lives.

Today I received a "real" hand written letter from a good friend who I have not seen in a while. She had asked for my address about a week ago and I wondered what she might send. Perhaps a graduation or a wedding announcement.... or perhaps a letter requesting charitable giving for some noble cause. While all those are wonderful reasons to request someones address they don't hold a candle to someone writing what she calls a "fascinating letter" six page, hand written letter.

I gotta say I loved reading about what she and her now grown up children are each up to woven in with memories of things we had shared in the past.  She did write a fascinating letter and I enjoyed every handwritten word. She says towards the end "what is incredible, or will be incredible, is if you can read it. The writing is a cross between cursive and printing!" Yet that is part of the beauty of her letter. She could have sent the same letter by e-mail and saved 2 postage stamps and the time it took to neatly hand write the letter as well as the trip to the post office. Not to mention taking time to contact me by facebook to get my address. I feel loved, and find myself thankful for a friendship that started years ago with two very broke single moms standing in line at the food bank. I have tears in my eyes as I look back to that moment and think about how far we have each come.

It dawned on me from a wellness stand point that there are probably some benefits to both the writer and recipient in the process writing and receiving of an old fashioned hand written letter.

I fill note books with hand written journalling - I have boxes of old journals and I probably have 20 note books floating around that I am hand writing various kinds of things in. Handwriting is something that I personally enjoy doing. I can't say I've written a handwritten letter to any one in a very long time. I think one of the things I like about hand writing is that it slows me down and it focuses my brain. It is more relaxing and calming to me than when I write using my computer. I think it also helps me better hear what God is saying. Journalling is how I learned to hear God's voice as a baby Christian. I would write for a while and then stop and listen and then write what I felt the Holy Spirit was saying. Journalling is however a subject for another day.  You might wonder why I don't just do that journal writing on my computer. I think it's the intimacy factor, in that my hand written journals feel more private. The things I write at my desk, on my computer are things that may have started in a journal but that I am now ready to share with a larger audience.

I was reading a couple of articles about the benefits of old fashioned letter writing. Sure enough slowing you down and helping you focus were some of the benefits listed. There were also references to studies that show that children who hand write their notes rather than using a computer use a whole different part of the brain and actually process and retain the information better. When you type you are more likely to capture word for word what is being said. When you take hand written notes you have to sum up the thoughts in your own words because you can't write fast enough. I was taking notes in a lecture last night and my notes are full of bubbles and pictures. Sometimes it is just random doodles on the page with a bubble quote here and there. It works for me.

There are small motor nerves and thought process and memory function that is stimulated differently when you write or doodle. So heres the good news for my friend who wrote the letter to me.

Hand writing keeps your brain sharp as you get older! Which is good news cause we are doing that getting older stuff at this point.

According to Chris Gayomali of
"Writing longhand is a workout. No, not necessarily for your wrist, but for your brain. According to The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that the act of writing — which engages your motor-skills, memory, and more — is good cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they age."

I also liked this quote from Will Gyurgyik "Letters might be inefficient, but they have their advantages and values.  It’s like cooking a great meal for a friend instead of picking up carryout.”
I am all for Facebook and how it helps people stay in touch but I think we often do a lot of lurking and don't even bother to write or comment. It is easier to just click the like button.

The act of writing help you de-stress. Heres an article that gives 10 benefits to writing.  I really like reason  #8. Writing strengthens your immune function
"When you write, your breathing slows and you allow more oxygen to go to your brain. Being actively engaged in your work heals the body and encourages it to fight more purposefully against viruses."

I just listened to this wonderful TedX talk by Elspeth Penny about the Lost art of Letter Writing.  I captured this quote from it. "Deeper heart felt words live in hand written letters, they show our venerability and they enrich our relationships. So lets not let the best of what we have disappear. Let celebrate that we can make marks on a page with our own hands. "

Today's challenge: Take some time today to write a "Fascinating" Hand Written Letter. You might include a photo or a news clipping, a recipe card, a pressed flower. Little things like that are ways to go the extra mile and add a personal touch. In my friends letter she inclosed a local news article about a historic building that I had been interested in seeing preserved.

I will be writing a hand written response to my friend and also a letter to some other person as a way to pay this gift of kindness forward I hope you will join me and write a letter today.

Thank you my dear friend, I am blessed and inspired by your handwritten gift.

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