In 2016, I spent about 132 hours (that’s about 5.5 days) meditating because I had to do something to face my anxiety and depression actively after my grandma passed away in the spring of 2015 and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2015 (she is doing fine now and is cancer-free).
In many ways, 2015 and 2016 were very difficult for me personally, and I took a year off from writing my food blog to take care of myself. Meditation has been largely responsible for the changes I’ve been able to make in the way I treat myself, others, and how I cope with anxiety.
I didn’t expect the clock to strike midnight on December 31 and banish all the things that made 2016 a dumpster fire. I expect that 2017 will be a difficult year, too. If for no other reason than the uncertain political climate we’re currently facing.
To be sure, some good things did come out of 2016. Especially some new and strengthened friendships that came from unexpected places. A few people showed up for me in 2016 in ways I never expected, and encouraged me or reached out in ways that helped me more than they may ever know. What I learned from spending so many hours meditating is that I want to practice kindness as much as possible—with myself and to others.
As a start to actively practice kindness on a regular basis, I decided I would start a year-long project sending one handwritten letter filled with kindness, compliments, or happy memories per week, for the entire year. My initial goal is to send at least 52 letters, and more if I can.
My only request to those who would like to receive letters from me was that they either write me back, or be inspired to send someone else some kind, handwritten words. It doesn’t have to be a long letter, I told them; it can be a short one with just a few sentences if that’s all you’ve got to say.
We rely so much on digital communication that lots of schools don’t even teach kids cursive handwriting anymore, and we don’t spend enough time being thoughtful in our communication in friendships and relationships because everyone is just a text message away. Hand-writing our thoughts forces us to actually focus on the importance of the words we choose, as opposed to the effortless and efficient act of typing words. It is a deliberate act of thinking to choose to write by hand rather than to type.
Most of us don’t even pick up the phone to talk to many people anymore. We don’t have many phone numbers memorized anymore, either. I love sending and receiving mail. And I love making my own stationery.
I decided I would like to be more mindful of the way I communicate with others in 2017. This means trying to change lazy, convenient habits in order to make and sustain meaningful connections with people I care about.
If you would like to receive a letter from me, you can enter your address securely to my Postable account and we’ll go from there.
I’ll be posting images of my weekly letters each month on my Instagram account using the hashtag #52KindLettersProject if you want to join in to share photos your own letters—the ones you send and any you receive.
If you like my idea and would like to do the same, I encourage you to write every week or however often you can (but not to feel bad if a week goes by that you can’t make time). Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. That’s part of what makes the human experience more meaningful to us all. I hope you’ll join me in practicing more kindness as well, even if you choose to do it differently than I plan to.