You’ve Got Mail…Real Mail


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

But here’s the thing, there aren’t enough people sending interesting mail for them to bring on their rounds. By interesting I mean NOT bills, NOT notices, NOT advertisements, NOT coupons, NOT junk.  I mean handwritten notes or letters or cards, or books or anything that doesn’t resemble bullshit. You can easily recognize bullshit when you see it, not like you don’t remember chain letters, so don’t send it.

The art of the handwritten note is dying a slow and painful death and it is breaking my heart. I may have mentioned before that the sight of a colorful envelop in my mail stops me dead in my tracks.  I must open it right there at the mail box and read it over and over on my way back to my door.  Mind you that’s only about thirty steps away and I usual can contain myself from jumping up and down but I’ve got to rip the envelope open immediately.

Joe Baca has said that the Postal Service’s unmatched ability to reach every household and business in America six days a week is a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure.  Blah blah blah, we all get that but he’s talking business, I’m talking love letters, inspirational notes, birthday cards, motivational notes, thanks yous….you remember those.

All the bitching about the price of postage…please.  I once made it my business to send a note every other week to someone going through chemo, all total about eight or ten cards, and the whopping total for that postage came to 3.20 at the time.  Come on, for under four bucks they were surprised with some tiny little note in the mail.  Something that wasn’t a bill or a report or work they could do from home.  It was a down and dirty I’m just thinking about you and sending the love.  I will do that again and again and again.

Then there was the time that I inadvertently read a situation so completely wrong that my dear friend Linda actually said she was done with me.  What?  How could I have done that?  How could I have been so wrong?  She wasn’t taking my phone calls; the idea that I might never see her again devastated me.  There was only one thing I could do, write my mae culpa in a heartfelt letter.  I thought long and hard and poured my heart into a letter that resulted in a phone call from her that said, come home all is forgiven.  I send cards and letters all the time and Linda has been the recipient of many of them. Come to find out she’s saved everything I’ve ever written her; you see the legacy connection, no?

Perhaps you’ve heard of Postsecret?  From their website:

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail
in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
PostSecret, 13345 Copper Ridge Road, Germantown, MD 20874

The concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before. Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams. The secrets are meant to be empowering both to the author and to those who read it. Frank Warren claims that the postcards are inspirational to those who read them, have healing powers for those who write them, give hope to people who identify with a stranger’s secret, and create an anonymous community acceptance.

You can see more on this from Frank Warren’s TED talk:

So it’s not just in the receiving it’s in the sending as well.  Speaking of sending, there is yet another project called “The World Needs More Love Letters”.  From the blog:

In October 2010, Hannah Brencher began writing & leaving love letters all over New York City to ward off the loneliness and depression that ambushed her after graduating from college. Knee-deep in student loans and desperate to know her “place in this world,” Brencher’s letter writing efforts grew a platform on her blog after she made a promise to the internet: If you emailed her a snail mail address, she would write you a love letter. No questions asked.

Another amazing sender was my mother.  Open your lunch box and there it was:

Enjoy your lunch.

Hope you did well on your test.

Love you.

Making your favorite for dinner.

Have fun today.

That was a hundred years ago and today there are websites to tell you what to say, notes you can download or special paper you can purchase.  She was on to something back then and didn’t even know it.  It just came from the heart in reaction to something we might have been anxious or excited about.

I’ve saved so many different types of correspondence all to the end of having them close to me whenever I want.  There are times you simply must hold something against your heart to get the energy of the words to work.  The beautiful cards from Japan from my friend Harumi’s mother expressing so beautifully our connection from so long ago.  She’s gone now but I can hold her to my heart and think of her.  The notes and cards from all my dear ones, my sister, my summer sister, my bestie, my friends and my family even himself available to me for remembering and honoring.  Most of them were surprises received at the mailbox making them all the more special.

The point is this, if you’re considering your legacy there must be some bit of you left behind.  What better way than to express yourself in your own hand and put a stamp on it for someone to do a bit of a jig at the mailbox?  Just sayin…Ordinary Legacy, 3208 Stowe Ln, Mahwah, NJ 07430



DSC_0001 (2)

What about you, they said, would you jump out of a plane.  Uh, no.  Skiing?  You mean where you look out over the top of a mountain and then throw yourself over on the equivalent of two sticks?  Uh, no.  Sounds like I’m starting from no but, in fact, quite a bit of thought has gone into these decisions.

Really I start from yes most of the time and I’d really like to see more people do that.  When posed the statement:  I want to live in a world _____.  I said I want to live in a world where people start from yes.  I get that that isn’t going to happen all the time but this week it didn’t happen at all.

I’m backing out of a parking space on Stowe Lane last week and my overly cautious, not want to scrape up my tires and rims, watch the mirrors, and the camera way of doing that pissed off one of my neighbors.  I didn’t cut her off but she did have to wait and she was in my face about that.  Really?  You’ve heard me mention the Mayor of the Pool and her hard ass, gravelly voice, don’t come to my end of the pool, incensed because she has to go outside the fence to smoke personality.  Well there she was giving me the face and the head shake as I’m apologizing.  Wait.  I’m apologizing.  She didn’t stop, she didn’t care so you can imagine me going all triple dog dare and calling her bitch.  I’m not proud of it but it needed to be done.

Why was that necessary in a darling little neighborhood like ours?  Why is it ever necessary to always start from no without a second’s hesitation?

Enter the Starbucks one morning and it’s jammin…no surprise it’s 8:30am.  Waiting in line, smiling and chatting with the people.  Place my order, venti skim no foam one Splenda latte please.  Your name she says. Sandi.  What?  It’s not an uncommon name but for an Ashley or a Jessica or a Kiley…who knows, maybe?  I repeat it and ask her to check if my free drink is in the computer.  Well we’ve been having problems checking against the cards (I see, the app would indeed be better) and the Starbucks computer hasn’t been responding and….oh…it went through.   I didn’t actually say it this time but she was indeed…

Continue through last week in anticipation of what I call the periodic justify your existence meeting this week.  Provide the information the project leaders were looking for only to find out it was being used at a conference call I only off handedly heard about.  You know I’m all for the next generation coming up and making a difference and I really worry about being labeled the old woman when I try and hint that they may not be entirely on track in their thinking.  Well this dinosaur knows like she knows that some people are plunging head first into fixing an anomaly by changing policy and they don’t know what they don’t know.  Point is they are starting from no.  After struggling with a spreadsheet that would provide the much needed reality check over the weekend I closed it and I’ll be damned if I know where it went.  Note to self….trying to justify your existence over the weekend with an I’ll show those spiky haired, skinny jeans kids sucking up to the guy on the ledge with one foot on a banana peel attitude might not have been the right motivation.  Sometimes the universe provides a motivation check on my behalf; thank God I printed the file.

Why is it necessary in a world renowned company to power grab instead of practice the art of consensus?

I was going to plunge right back in this morning on gathering the reality check material but I decided to start from yes instead.  Not my idea exactly, more like Evi and I sharing a glass of wine over our previous night’s texting where she reminded me to take today off, it will wait.  And our ever present mantra, it’s just cars.   So I did, today I started from yes.  Took a walk with two sets of dogs, took myself around my dear Stowe Lane, camera in hand to capture what is surely the last of the turning leaves.  Rearranged my office to be MY office, not my other work office.  Spruced up my home, took out something fabulous for dinner with my friend Sandra and let it go.

So many signs handed to me this week to start again.  When I started this post with:

Legacy Lesson: Start from Yes

Start from YesAnd then: Ordinary Wisdom from Tina Fey

tiny fey

And finally: Ordinary Food for Thought

when you say yesI never thought it would turn into a rant about NO.  The fact is I should have heeded the hints, actually more like the bricks, thrown at me and stayed on course with my original thoughts on saying yes to more and more invitations, more and more tiny community adventures and more and more positive interaction.  Thankfully I’m doing that but as with anything else you can never really see the power of one thing unless you’ve experience it’s direct opposite.  I believed before in the power of yes I certainly have confirmed that this week.



Un Nuovo Giorno


The alarm goes off on days I go to the office and immediately I am nose to nose with the two loves of my life. On those days I don’t go to the office they serve as my alarm clock, same technique just a bit later…but not much.

I stand, breathe in as my arms rise over my head. As I bring them down and cross my hands over my heart I am saying,

Thank you God for this day and everything in it. I love you.

Exhale. I know Everything means Everything, good, bad, happy, sad, my things, my thoughts, my lessons, Everything.

Un Nuovo Giorno, a new day, the first day of my life.  This is a love song sung by my beloved Andrea Bocelli.  I can’t get past the third line without tears, I can never sing it for the lump in my throat but for me it’s not about a person, it’s about how I see my relationship with God.

Some people believe, some people don’t. I believe. No good has ever come to me without me first saying thank you and I try to say it often. I am not religious in the formal sense but I have a practice.  I don’t go to church in the literal sense but my home is sacred.

My morning ritual continues on my walk with the girls. No iPod, no distraction, no rush.  Business first then we can walk and look, and listen to our neighborhood. Back home to Stowe Ln we exhale again. Every time I walk through that door I exhale thanks to the beautiful insight of my summer sister Kyle. When I got to Stowe Lane she blessed me with a wonderful wall decal that says:  “Breathe, you’re home.”  Everyone exhales when they get to Stowe Lane thanks to that little reminder, whether they realize it or not.

breathe you're home

On to green smoothies and dog food and coffee. Dispensed appropriately of course. I sit in my comfy chair with my hands wrapped around my warm cup of coffee to let my mind create my day. I learned of a meditation yesterday in a class I attended called the Calming Heart Meditation, place the left hand into the palm of your right hand and put your thumbs together creating a circle.  That is exactly how I hold my coffee cup…seems instinct will lead you to the ancient if you are open.

There are some days when I need to start again.  I don’t mind starting some days again, I get I’m not perfect.  I get that other people aren’t perfect.  Perfection is a myth perpetuated by God knows who to what end I have no idea.  All I want it is to look back over a day and say I tried or I did the best I could or I started again.  No shame, no regret, just considerations of how things might be better next time.

In answer to the question: What iF I truly believe I’d be just fine…what does your un nuovo giorno bring you?




Give A Little Bit

with gramma2 (2)

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my life for you
Now’s the time that we need to share
So find yourself, we’re on our way back home…Roger Hodgson – Supertramp

It seems to me that as soon as we’re born we’re already on our way back home.  I was reminded of that recently when I completed a questionnaire for a course I was taking.  One of the questions was something like tell me something that hasn’t ever appeared on your bio.  I had come across pictures of my maternal grandmother and me when I was two years old. They are lovely, the story goes that she wasn’t supposed to live long enough to see me born. Somehow she did and I’ve been told I was the reason she lived an additional two years.  The love shows in these pictures and in seeing them now, at this age, I got a sense of having been destined in some way.

So what do you do with that?  I believe I tried very hard to become generous; in different and interesting ways.  Iyanla Vanzant said, “When you stand and share your story in an empowering way your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.  My story has become about generosity, as Evi would say, I’m a giver…she means it in a completely different and funny way I’m sure.  I’ve had to learn the difference between being self-sacrificing, not a good thing, and being selfless.  I did the sacrificing thing and that didn’t work for anyone.  Self-sacrificing tends to lead to resentment because there is an expectation attached.  True generosity is giving with no expectation of anything in return.

I am an avid fund raiser for a local animal organization that provides food for pets through the local, and ever expanding, food pantries.  The thought of not being able to feed my girls just crushed me. There was a time, many years ago, that I had to cut way back but never did I ever not have food for my dogs.  I would have eaten mac and cheese daily…oh wait.  I don’t strong arm, I just send out a series of three emails and people respond.  They respond to the same thing I did, that there but for the grace of God go I, the what an innovative idea and the dedication of an all-volunteer group making a huge difference thing  They respond generously, I hope because over the years I’ve been generous in kind, through my work and through my actions.  I’m big on the way I live my life being enough no thanks required.

I was reminded recently (seems I’m always being reminded of something recently) by a friend I hadn’t spoken to in quite some time of a little thing I did for him when he was going through cancer treatment.  I would send a note by mail, I’m a huge believer in getting something other than bills and bullshit in the mail, with some encouraging quote or thought or just hello.  I would send one every week or every other week, I honestly don’t remember now, hoping they would bring a bit of something other than cancer to him.  I remember stopping them after his scans came back stellar.  I was so glad to hear how much they meant to him.

Sending things in the mail is one of those different and interesting ways I give.  Another way is giving a handkerchief to someone who has lost someone.  It’s one of those things that no one ever thinks of, probably because no one would even know where to find a handkerchief these days. I’ve got a collection of them from decades ago and I’ve stashed them with lavender in a box for just such occasions.  For those who are being as brave as they can be in the face of the rituals they must face when someone dies, why not give them something that they can bury their face in when the tears inevitably come.  Trying to maintain some sense of dignity while going through a box of tissues just doesn’t seem fair and after all is said and done, the keepsake can remind them of the respect they paid their loved one and the poise they maintained.

Photos have become another way of giving for me.  I’m trying very hard to capture life as I see it with the people I’m on my journey with.  I love my people and I hope they know it.  To cement our times together I snap away, sometimes to the momentary annoyance of my subjects, but ultimately to their delight when presented with the evidence of time well spent.  I hope that the portraits I took of my friends now departed dog will give her comfort each time she views them.  I know that the books I’ve been putting together at the end of each year are bringing my family just the perfect gift each Christmas.  I know I’m getting better at it and thanked God I didn’t screw up the most fabulous wedding pictures.

I’ve given away my pearls, my wedding dress, my money, my time, my ear, my heart but the number one give away that brings me pleasure is giving away food.  I don’t know that this could be called truly generous as I do do do want something in return.  I get no greater pleasure than cooking with and for people and having them gather around my table for eating, drinking, laughing and sharing.  Feeding people is my number one favorite thing to do, having people in my home, being surrounded by laughter, oh that just sends me.

You’ve heard me say over and over I believe in food for thought and moments in time; add to that kind gestures and that should just about cover it.  I don’t really ask for much but on a rainy, miserable day like today it would have been nice to have someone bring me a coffee and the NY Times to enjoy in bed.  Yet another post in the making…

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less the you need…Kahlil Gibran