Do you have a superpower, friends?
I'll go ahead and answer for you: yes, you do! (We all do!)
I like to think my superpower is writing thoughtful notes. I've loved writing stories and letters from a very young age, and putting all those years of practice into reminding people how wonderful they are is one of the best ways I know to use my "powers" for good :)
Because it's something that comes easily to me, it would be natural to take it for granted - except for my sister. She's as thoughtful as I am, but has the hardest time putting her sentiments down in writing. Maybe that's you, too? If so, I'm happy to share a few tips today for writing thoughtful notes, whether "just because," for a birthday, or for an occasion like Mother's or Father's Day!
1. Select the right greeting card. A.k.a., don't choose one that's too big, and don't choose one with a cheesy message! :) If you lack confidence in your writing abilities, I know it can be tempting to grab a card with a pre-written message and quickly add your signature, but resist the temptation!
On the other hand, some of the cards in the stationery aisle are ENORMOUS! Opening one up and staring down a 8.5x11 sheet of blank paper would be intimidating for anyone. I'm biased, but our Joyful Greeting Cards are the perfect size for a heartfelt, but not overwhelming, message :)
Also, let me say this here at the beginning - DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR HANDWRITING. As long as it's legible, no one cares how neat or messy your handwriting is when you're writing them kind words. Do NOT let your penmanship hold you back from sending snail mail!
2. Say the real thing. We live in a cynical age. Because you may not be used to sharing clear and heartfelt messages, it might feel vulnerable, raw, or unnatural to put sentimental thoughts on paper. That's kind of the point, friend!
A meaningful note is earnest and from the heart. It's unexpected. And remember, your loved one isn't going to be analyzing what you say - even though a pre-written message can fall flat, one penned in your own hand (even if it feels a little cheesy!) never will.
3. Get specific. My goal with a thoughtful note is for the recipient to feel seen, acknowledged, and valued for exactly who she is - a unique, unrepeatable individual! Imagine her reading it - what would make her smile? If you're stuck on what to write, try asking yourself a few of these questions:
-- What is a favorite memory of or with this person, or a story about her?
-- When I think of this person, what comes to mind first?
-- How has this person added value to my life? What has this person taught me?
-- How does this person make me feel?
-- What do I admire about this person? What qualities shine in her?
-- Why am I grateful this person is in my life? How has our relationship evolved over time? What does our relationship mean to me?
There is almost nothing too great you can say about the person, ha! As long as it rings true for you and feels specific to who this person is, you're golden.
4. Use a formula, if it helps. If your friend is celebrating her 32nd birthday, write out 32 short things you love about her (or three favorite stories from your relationship - one for each decade!). Boundaries can free us up from the paralysis of staring at a blank page and help the words begin to flow.
5. Don't expect it to be easy. Yes, writing a heartfelt note takes more time than adding your signature to a store-bought card. You might spend a few minutes brainstorming what you'd like to say, and then 5-10 minutes actually writing out the card. It might take some time to hit on a message that captures your feelings. But isn't it worth it when you think of the delight you'll bring to the beloved human on the receiving end?
6. Short is great. On the other hand, meaningful notes don't have to be novellas! You can pack a lot of impact into 3-5 sentences. If it feels less intimidating, send a postcard!
7. Remember there's something in it for you, too! If writing a Mother's Day card feels like having a tooth pulled, even if you love your mom with all your heart, remember this: not only will your efforts bring joy to a loved one, but they'll bring joy to your life, too. We all move so fast that slowing down and actually feeling gratitude is mentally restorative for you, the writer and sender, too.
Let's put these tips into practice! Here's an example note I might write to my own Mom:
Happy Mother's Day! Out of all the moms in the world, I feel really grateful that I ended up as your daughter. What a gift to grow up in a home that was not only safe and smoothly-run, but that communicated unconditional love and belief in who I was and who I was becoming!
It still blows my mind all these years later the hours upon hours you devoted to driving me, Kate, and Kim to various after-school activities - always looking up with a smile on your face when we pulled open the passenger side door. I lean on your example in big and small ways every single day as I care for my family. I hope you feel how treasured you are today and every day!
What tips would you add, friends? I'd love to hear!