I've been thinking a lot lately about putting positivity and gratitude and love out into the world. It can sometimes sound really cliche and sentimental to talk about, but I think it's important to try to leave the world better than you found it, to do what you can to spread joy. There are lots and lots of ways to do that, of course, and all of them are better than doing nothing. For me, though, one of the ideas that resonates most, which won't surprise anybody who has read here for long, is to spread joy through the mail.
A few years back, Karen Walrond hosted a photo drive
wherein she had her readers send in copies of happy and beautiful photographs they'd taken, which were then distributed to the kids at Texas Children's Hospital. In her explanation of what inspired the project, she posts about sticking a picture of a sunflower an envelope and mailing it off to a friend in need of cheering
. It's such a simple thing to do, sticking something in an envelope, stamp, address, and viola, a tangible piece of your love arrives at the doorstep of someone far away. And yet, we do it very rarely. Instead, we write two lines on Facebook. We send an email. We do nothing at all.
Karen's photo project was brought back to my mind by a blog I ran across more recently, Giver's Log
. In specific, I've been pouring over the Happy Mail archives
. For her Happy Mail, AmberLee sends joyful objects, weighing 13 oz or less in order to make best use of first class shipping rates, through the mail to family and friends. The kicker? She sends them unwrapped, or wrapped as little as possible, so that the surprise of getting mail that isn't junk or bills is compounded by the surprise of receiving something without a layer of cardboard and paper between it and you. Examples have included such simple, happy things as a bottle of sprinkles, a giant car wash sponge, a rubber ball, and a pair of flip flops.
I am absolutely in love with AmberLee's idea, not just for its whimsy, but because it is so very doable. None of it is expensive, none of it takes a lot of time. All that is
required is a roll of stamps and a little bit of imagination. The mailed objected themselves can be thrifted, found at the dollar store, or even found around your house. And the possibilities are endless. Anything that makes you happy, isn't too fragile, and weighs under 13 oz is fair game!
So, I'm in. I'm shamelessly ripping AmberLee off and starting my own Happy Mail project. I've spent the last week or so looking around for possible stuff to send, and I have quite a number of things in mind. To start, though, I decided to send a little joy to some of the dogs who share their lives with the people I love.
I was inspired, as I so often am, by the Target clearance section, where I found these:
These guys are among my favorite dog toys. My dog won't actually lower himself to playing with toys, but if he did, I'd make him play with these crazy grinning weiner dogs just because I like them (here
are some on Amazon, BTW, or check your local Target--mine has them for 50% off). And you can't tell me you wouldn't smile to find one of these in your mailbox, right? So I made some kraft paper and Avery label labels, embellished with some off-brand washi tape, and they're ready to go!
My first Happy Mail! I'm so excited to get these out. I feel fairly confident they'll arrive more or less intact--they don't break any USPS rules I can find, and they're clearly labeled and have sufficient stamps ($2.07 each, by the way). Hopefully, in a week or so when they hit their desintations, both human and canine friends will smile!
My hope is to send out at least one piece of Happy Mail a week for the forseeable future. It's just a little project to keep me entertained and engaged, and to spread some love. I'll try to keep posting about them, if y'all are interested, and let you know how it's going. And I encourage trying this out yourself--I couldn't stop smiling as I was labeling these guys, imagining their recipients. That's good for the soul.