Archives for the month of: September, 2012

I came across this on You Tube the other day

Johnny Depp reading out loud the letters that he received from Hunter S. Thompson during his work on the Fear and Loathing Movie and letters he wrote to Hunter.

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I learned something today.

My penpal Mary who lives in Saskatoon sent me this card with a bit about the pelican activity in her neck of the woods. Who knew that pelicans liked to hang out on the prairies?!

She writes, “Every summer we have the sight of these wonderful birds feeding at the Weir in our river…. Each day the pelicans fly into Saskatoon and they wait at the Weir and as the fish come over they scoop them up in their huge beaks and take them back to feed the ones at home…. The sight of them flying and then swooping down to the water is a sight to behold.”

Also, it did not escape me that Mary posted her card using a Saskatchewan Rough Riders commemorative stamp. She is an avid football fan. And unlike a lot of sports fans, she is still a fan if they lose or tie the game. I’m not a big sports fan but I am holding up a giant virtual foamy number one hand gesture just for her.

🙂

If you’ve never heard of Post Secret, you haven’t spent enough time online. Frank Warren started Post Secret almost 10 years ago and has amassed half a million post cards from people who anonymously unburden themselves of their serious, gross, funny and frivolous secrets.

Last weekend I went to see Post Secret: The Play at Performance Works. Frank Warren and his team assembled a mixed bag of postcards, emails, voice mails, and audio clips from live gatherings to bring the Post Secret story and all the many sub-stories alive. The curated collection of pictures and audio ephemera celebrated Post Secret’s tremendous ability to touch those who feel alone and marginalized. “You are not alone,” was a recurring theme in the cards and a loud call to those standing on the bridge ready to jump, those with an eating disorder, those with seemingly no hope left.

Snail mail for the win!

 

 

We knew each other pre- a lot of things: babies, marriage, career changes, geographic relocations, etc. Those are all the changes in her life, not mine. Sometimes, when I look back on the person I first met vs. the person I write to now, I think I’ve done so little with my life, changed so little, accomplished so little, lived so little. But then I remind myself that:

a) change is relative

b) I’m not her

c) She’s not me

d) Not a single one of those changes changes a single thing about our friendship

Soon-to-be-parents rarely share the name they’ve picked for their unborn baby. But she did. Maybe she knew he would be born before her letter reached me. Regardless, I was still hono(u)red that she would share that little tidbit with me and I “aww’ed” a little when I read it. Here’s a picture of the little man with the gentleman’s name:

 

I spoke. Earth’s Own listened.

Their tetra-paks of Ryza brand brown rice milk are a favourite of mine but for at least four or five months I’ve noticed that once opened, these cartons leak from their little plastic flip tops when you go to shake the carton. They say to shake before using so I shake, but then I have to clean brown rice milk off my cupboards and floor. Okay, so the dog looks after cleaning the floor, but still. Bad. But lo and behold, by post the company supplied me with three coupons for three free  cartons of rice milk after a emailed them.

It pays to complain politely.

I alluded to this mail-out of mine in a previous post. Here is just a small portion of what I am sending out this year in the way of corporate holiday promotion for my line of customizable greeting cards.

It’s always a crap shoot with a physical mailer. Yes, I could just send an email. Yes, I could save all that money on printing and postage and all that time signing, folding, stuffing, sealing, stamping, and schlepping down to the post office, but this way I actually get my product in people’s hands. When I consider the cost per piece to get my work into people’s hands versus, say, paying for ad space in Business in Vancouver it seems well worth the effort.

But the question is, are the cards getting into the right hands? How many years in a row do you send a card to a company without hearing back from them? When is enough enough? When do repeated efforts turn into a dead end? Is there value in repeating your message to the same people year after year? Is it worth changing up the approach from one year to the next? By keeping them on the mailing list will they eventually come to recognize the name/product and feel a comfort level with what I’m offering? Can they even afford what I’m offering? Are they telling their friends? Are they passing my work or my website address on to the person who really makes the decisions? How can I get personal feedback on these cards when mail is such a one-way mode of communication – it’s a personal, physical, and arresting mode of communication if done well, but it’s really still just a monologue until someone answers back.

These thoughts – and many more – both plague and bless me. This is a sneak peek at what it’s like to run one’s own business. And it’s also one reason why I meditate. It quiets the constant questions.

Last weekend I took part in a weekend-long non-residential retreat offered by six Buddhist monastics who live at the French monastery of the Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Today’s letter is comprised of two words: “thank you”.

I wrapped those words around a small dana – a donation – I gave on the last day of the retreat.

If you have never read his book Peace is Every Step I strongly encourage you to.

A reply to a friend

This renewed friendship is starting to really take shape via snail mail.

Letter writing and letter reading corner

The light is best in my reading and writing corner around three in the afternoon these autumn days. The peace lily however is starting to take over the space. Must make peace between peace lily and chair very soon.