a picture of my letter writing ritual. A few must haves: peace and quiet (and napping kids), tea (chai is my tea of choice), pretty paper to write on, a good pen that writes nicely, stickers/stamps (because I'm that kind of gal, and a candle.
I love getting mail. It is one of the simplest of gestures, yet it carries so much meaning. Last fall, a dear friend of mine, told me that she would like to start sending me letters. She knew that we were moving to an isolated community, and thought it would be nice for me to receive a little note now and then. When my first letter arrived, all the way from Austria, I realized, just how special this was. Inside the letter were some golden leaves that she included from one of her daily walks. I felt connected to her and her surroundings and it was something I really appreciated. Since then, we have gone on to exchange more letters and we are going strong with it.
This past year, I have struggled with the feelings of being connected. I was spending far too much time online, checking Facebook and looking for a way to feel connected to the outside world. What all that time online left me feeling was empty, lonely and like I was missing something.
It was hard for me, but I decided that I needed to set some serious limits for myself, but also look at why I was feeling so lonely and empty. Just by virtue of being where I am (small Northern town in the Yukon), I have very limited opportunities to connect with friends and family. I could tell that I was missing that personal connection and it hit me hard on one of my trips into Whitehorse. Sitting around with friends, enjoying a glass (or more) of wine, I realized that I missed that social aspect, and that the fake facade of the online world was not filling the void for me.
While I still do like to check Facebook, I am happy to say that by limiting my time on it, I am spending more time doing real things to make me feel connected. After reading another friend's status about missing real life connections, I asked her if she might like to start writing letters, and she was on board too. I also try to write to my Grandmother at least once a month, who I know needs that sense of connection too. And on occasion, I pop a letter in the mail to a friend who might be needing a little pick me up.
Things like letter writing, phone calls and even real emails (not quick messages or texts) have been ways that I am connecting to friends and family, and I notice that it has made a real difference in my perception to how isolated I really am (it's not that bad, incase you are wondering).
Another area of my life where I am feeling more connected is with my immediate family, right here in this little house. Since setting some limits to when I use the computer, I have found that I am more accountable to how we spend our time as a family, not to mention, I've been way more productive with my time (cleaning, writing, sketching, organizing). No more wasting 20 or 30 minutes here and there, zoning out and disconnecting from my world here. It also has my son saying a lot less often, "mom! when are you going to put away your computer"... break my heart :( I realize that this is not what I want for myself or my kids.
It's a work in progress, but I feel like solid connections are being made in many aspects of my life. I am afraid of how reliant I have felt in the past on the internet (namely social media), and know that it could never replace the real thing. Letters, time, conversations, dialogue, phone calls, and this little project . I'm happy to be bringing those things back into my life.